Government on Thursday rejected claims by leader of Hizb-e-Islami and presidential hopeful Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that government’s move to dismiss members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) was a political move.
The government argues that the election commissioners were fired over widespread allegations of corruption, fraud and massive irregularities in the election process. The government is expected to introduce new commissioners next week.
But Hekmatyar declared the dismissal “illegal”. He said government should have identified which specific member of the election commission had been involved in corruption.
“A member of the commission said that except for one candidate, all other documents had problems, one is the chief executive officer and the other one is his deputy who have not resigned from their job. Second Vice President has also not tendered his resignation while he has been running as deputy, legally their documents are not credible and are illegal. It is believed that the two commissions had decided to declare the documents as illegal.
But the strongmen took the stage by dissolving the commissions. They did not give the opportunity to the commissions to announce their decision,” said Hekmatyar.
But government says Hekmatyar was one of the critics who had been calling for the dismissal of the commissioners.
“It was not a political decision,” said Mohammad Hedayat, media advisor to Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish.
Efforts have been expedited to introduce new members of the election commissions.
“Possibly some of the candidates will make a coalition,” said Khalil Raufi, an electoral expert.
Based on the election law, the government will pick new members of the election commissions from amongst 87 candidates.
“If they introduce a person and then take him as hostage while we know that at the same time the political parties have relations with the electoral tickets and the candidates, in that case, we will have a tough time,” said Mohammad Yousuf Rashid, head of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
The election commissioners were removed from their posts after President Ashraf Ghani approved an amendment to the electoral law last week. According to Ghani’s decree, the two commissions are now being run by heads of the secretariats of the electoral bodies.
Election observer organizations on Tuesday said that some former and incumbent members of the election commissions, who are accused of corruption and playing a role in irregularities in the parliamentary polls, have applied rejoin the electoral bodies, adding that this needs to be prevented in order to ensure transparency in the process.
This comes a week after the AGO banned election commissioners from travelling after they were removed from their posts following the amendment to the election law.