In an unprecedented show of anger, political parties in Afghanistan on Friday set a ten-day deadline for a response from government to meet their demands on a change in the country’s election system and ensure that biometric system is used on the day of voting.
The parties included the Council for the Protection and Stability in Afghanistan, Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, Hizb-e Wahdat Islami Mardum-e Afghanistan and some political movements including Mehwar-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan.
The political parties also levelled serious accusations on government leaders over what they described it deliberate attempts to deprive the people from the right to be informed about all aspects of free and credible elections.
They also accused government of trying to engineer the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections.
“There is skepticisms and fraud in the voter registration process. This has paved the way for a large-scale and coordinated fraud. This indicates that the leaders of National Unity Government do not have the political will to respect the determination of the people regarding transparent and fair elections,” said Massoud Tarishtwal, a spokesman for the Council for the Protection and Stability of Afghanistan.
“We call on the international community to support the demand of the people about transparent and fraud-free elections in order to prevent any kind of engineered and fraudulent polls,” said Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, spokesman for the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.
No delegation from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami attended today’s gathering of the political parties.
On the issue of peace and national reconciliation, representatives of the political parties said no movement from the public platform has so far emerged for a just and dignified peace process.
Representatives of the political parties pledged to form a peace facilitating body to speed up the peace and reconciliation process.
“We believe that there is a huge gap and until now a movement has not emerged from within the people to ensure a just and transparent peace,” said Zahir Qadeer, member of Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, sources within the political parties who spoke on condition of anonymity said the political parties likely to present options on the table if their demands were not met.
The options will include establishment of an interim government and government leaders will be asked to give up plan to run for upcoming elections once again.
But, government has rejected the allegations that it was trying to interfere in the elections.
This comes after President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday issued a decree on elections to prevent any interference in the election process and to ensure the process is held in a safe and transparent environment.
The decree was issued amid growing complaints over government’s “lack of commitment” in terms of holding transparent parliamentary elections in October.
The decree reads:
• Officials and employees of government departments including military, defense and civilian institutions, judiciaries and the Supreme Court officials must avoid interference in parliamentary and district council elections.
• Defense and security forces must not enter voter registration, polling and vote counting centers arbitrarily. They can get permission of responsible officials in case of need.
• Taking guns into voter registration, polling and vote counting centers is forbidden.
• Security and defense forces must ensure the security of officials and the central and provincial offices of the independent election commission and the independent electoral complaints commission, voter registration centers, polling stations and vote counting centers.
• Security forces must prevent the entrance of security guards of government officials and irresponsible armed individuals to voter registration centers, polling stations and vote counting centers.
• Government officials cannot use government resources in the electoral process in favor or against one or more candidates.
• Ministry of Interior Affairs is responsible to deploy enough female police force members in order to ensure more presence of women in elections.
• The Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission should inform relevant offices in case of any interference by officials in elections.
• Security and defense institutions must legally act against violators of this decree and send them to judicial organizations.
• Head of the relevant committee shall report to the Presidential Palace on the implementation of this decree.