IEC working to prevent rigging: Amarkhel
KABUL (PAN): The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday said it was working on a new plan to prevent irregularities in next year’s presidential elections, calling the vote the only way to ensure peaceful political transition.
IEC Secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel told reporters in Kabul the new strategy was aimed at fairly monitoring the electoral process that would help recruit staff and enhance cooperation between security organs, people, civil society and political groups.
Amarkhel believed the plan could be effectively implemented only when the relevant authorities ensured security for polling centres, voters, candidates, observers and election officials.
Security institutions had informed the IEC there was no problem at 3,435 of the 7,000 polling centres, he said, explaining 259 sites were located in insurgency-plagued areas and the remaining faced different levels of threat.
Also present on the occasion was Mohammad Daud Askari, the anti-corruption department head at the Ministry of Interior. He said security forces had embarked on endeavours to improve and maintain security in the build-up to and during the elections.
Ministry leadership had been changed and the new leader might come up with new plans for strengthening election security, he said.
Two days ago, Mohammad Omar Daudzai, the former ambassador to Pakistan, took charge as acting interior minister and Mohammad Ayub Salangi as his deputy.
Amarkhel said the new plan had been devised keeping in view past experiences. “We are holding elections in a state of war; there must be some problems,” he acknowledged, saying the IEC continued to face hardships in appointing female staff in some provinces.
He made an appeal to presidential and provincial council candidates to avoid creating problems for election officials and voters. The IEC secretary said no one could cast multiple votes. “It is of no use if someone has obtained more than one voter cards.”
Amarkhel’s remarks come a day after more than 1000 people held in a gathering in Kabul and called for the April 5 elections to be postponed until 2018. They were of the view the elections were impossible due to the ongoing insecurity across the country.
But Amarkhel said there was no alternative to the elections to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. “The commission has no problems in terms of capacity, logistics, funds and operation.”
IEC commissioner Sharifa Zurmati said there was nothing to worry about and the electoral process would proceed as planned. She added the commission would not accept any excuses from the government to delay the ballot.
She called on political leaders not to create unnecessary doubts about the elections and instead cooperate with security organs and the IEC in making the process a success. Zurmati said so far 800,000 people had obtained voter registration cards, with women constituting 25 percent of them.
Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FFEA) representative Shah Mahmood said they saw nothing that could lead to a delay in the elections.
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