Government has transferred the authority of the collection of completed ballot papers from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) and has asked the CSO to oversee the use of technology on election day.
The responsibility for this was transferred last week in an order issued by the Presidential Palace.
IEC officials said they have not spoken to the CSO in this regard but emphasized that they will not accept any delays in the election schedule caused by the introduction of technology and a biometric system.
Election commission officials said they have no problems with changes brought to the process in order to ensure election transparency but said changes and decisions should not affect the IEC’s independency.
“We welcome government’s move to transfer the authority to the CSO, but it should not question the IEC’s independency. We welcome using any options and any agreement with political parties and monitoring bodies that aim for a transparent election,” IEC secretary Sayed Hafizullah Hashemi said.
Meanwhile German biometric manufacturers, Dermalog, said the supply of a biometric system for voters will cost around $16 million and that they are currently in talks with the CSO to finalize the contract.
Officials from CSO however refused to comment on the issue.
Government leaders on Saturday evening held a meeting with political parties and according to the Presidential Palace they agreed to use technology on election day and that the responsibility of rolling out such a process be handed to the CSO.
Representatives of political parties however said their meeting with government did not end well as they have requested that the biometric system be implemented and controlled by the IEC and not the CSO.
The political parties said no other organizations should be tasked with functions that fall under the IEC.
“The voters should go through a biometric process by the election commission and monitored by political parties and civil society. Otherwise, it will not help with the transparency of elections. This is not acceptable to us,” said Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of the political parties committee.
Meanwhile organizations overseeing the elections process said government’s move to hand over the biometric system functions to the CSO is against the law.
“Why has the election commission not been tasked with this? … Additional departments should not be established to take on the election commission’s tasks,” Yusuf Rasheed, head of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan said.
The election commission also said due to the closure of its offices for 10 days, by supporters of a number of disqualified candidates, they have been unable to prepare the voters list.