A survey by Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies (AISS) shows that people’s trust in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has slightly grown compared with the past but it is still not adequate.
The survey titled “Reforming Election System and Experiencing Parliamentary Elections” has covered 1,305 individuals in 13 provinces.
The survey shows that 45 percent of the interviewees said they are happy with IEC activities while 45 percent have said they are not satisfied with activities of Independent Election Commission. According to the survey, 10 percent of interviewees have not given clear response to researchers.
Meanwhile, the survey has asked about people’s view on activities of parliament members. The survey shows that 53 percent of the interviewees have said that they are not happy with Afghan lawmakers’ activities as according to them they are thinking about their own interests rather than prioritizing national interests of the country.
“At least 53 percent of interviewees feel that lawmakers are only following their own interests,” said Saifullah Taha, member of the Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies.
“Disagreements on elections have been solved through mediation and intervention of powerful national and international political players. The result is that electoral bodies have no tools for implementation of their own decisions,” said Taha.
Reducing constituencies, a combination of the single constituency and single non-transferrable voting systems, drafting laws on addressing demands of political parties and leaders over transparency of elections are the main recommendations mentioned by the AISS to the election commission.
“Many authorities of the election commission have been handed over to other government institutions. In fact, the commission does not have the required tools for implementation of its own decisions,” said Wasima Badghisi, deputy head of IEC operations.
Rift Within Election Commission
While only 35 days have remained to the upcoming parliamentary elections, a number of electoral monitoring institutions said “serious disagreements” have emerged between head of the IEC secretariat and election commissioners including head of the IEC over appointment of heads of the election commission’s provincial offices.
“The disagreements are over a new schemes on appointments of IEC provincial heads. Some agreements have been due to a pressure by the United Nations and election stakeholders… However, this has still remained as a challenge,” said Naeem Ayubzada, CEO of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
The election commission meanwhile admitted that there are some disagreements but said it is a misunderstanding and that it will not put any negative impact on IEC activities and on transparency of elections.
“The new head of the IEC secretariat implemented some plans as he thought the plans were approved in the past and he started appointment and removal of some officials, but the plan was not approved and the process was stopped,” said Sayed Hafizullah Hashemi, IEC’s spokesman.
Hashemi said security and political problems are main hurdles on the way of upcoming elections in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior said the Afghan National Police force members are fully prepared to ensure the security of upcoming elections.
“New security measures are in place. We have ordered all departments to use all their resources for elections safety,” said Nusrat Rahimi, a spokesman for Ministry of Interior.
The IEC officials said this week security agencies have promised to ensure the safety of 5,100 voting centers with the help of foreign forces on election day.
“At least 21,000 polling stations will be established and the list has already been shared (with security officials). Security plans have been made for them and we have been assured that the safety of the centers is ensured,” the IEC spokesman said.
The IEC officials said the commission has deleted the names of 87,000 people from amongst four million voters which were included in the database. This was due to incomplete information.
The commission has so far entered details of 7.3 million voters in to the database and said it has prepared voters lists for 10 provinces.