Security key to fair elections: Manawi
KABUL (PAN): The election commission chief on Tuesday called for elaborate security measures before and during next year's elections, saying eligible individuals would receive new voter cards next month.
Fazal Ahmad Manawi told the upper house the Independent Election Commission (IEC) was ready to hold presidential and provincial elections as scheduled. But tight security measures had to be taken, he insisted.
Manawi said security organs were required to protect polling sites, voters, candidates and foreign and local observers in the lead-up to and during the elections.
He said they had already released a list of 7,000 polling sites to security organs to enable them to come up with tight security plans.
The IEC chief said security organs should respond effectively to their call for strict security steps because insecurity had been behind no voting in some parts of the country in the previous polls.
"I cannot say anything about transparency of the upcoming ballots if the situation remains the same," Manawi said of increasing insecurity in much of the country.
He also said eligible people having turned 18 years old and those having lost their previous voter cards would be distributed new ones in late May.
He acknowledged the commission had previously distributed 11.5 million "sub-standard" voter cards, but the new cards would block forgery at home.
He said those able to receive their electronic identity cards before elections, they could cast their votes through those cards.
Registration process for electronic ID cards has began in Kabul and officials say the cards will be distributed to all Afghans over next three years.
The election commission chief said the schedule for next year's elections would not be changed under any circumstances because any change would be in contradiction with the constitution.
But some senators said people in cold areas would not be able to cast their votes due to weather conditions. Manwai said polling sites in cold areas had been established in schools which would be open that time.
He asked the national assembly to approve amendments to a proposed electoral law as early as possible in order to facilitate the election process.
Manawi argued the constitution had no mention of a complaint election body but it had more powers than the election commission.
He suggested it would be better to investigate elections related complaints through the Supreme Court which he said one of the state's pillars.
The government has sent a draft law for approval to the Wolesi Jirga. The law transfers all powers of the complaint commission to the apex court. "You have the authority to decide on the fate of elections laws," Manwai told lawmakers.
Manawi also said that the commission had no problem with Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan to participate in next elections, but it would require a strong government support.
He said up to 120,000 election officials would perform duty on the voting day and that election staff were being appointed through an open competition. He said the commission would not allow its officials with dubious records to perform election duty.
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