'Foreign observation key to credible vote'
KABUL (Pajhwok): An independent electoral watchdog on Wednesday said international poll observers had a crucial role to play in holding transparent elections, saying the pullout of staff by two foreign observation missions would not have any negative effect on the observation process.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had withdrawn their staff out of Afghanistan after Thursday’s deadly attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul.
Nine people, including Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad, his spouse, their two children, another Afghan, two Canadians, an American and a Paraguayan were killed in the assault, claimed by Taliban.
IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told Pajhwok Afghan News they had registered 14 international observers and the pullout of two missions would not have any considerable effect on the process.
About 1,206 observation groups, including 67 local, have approached the IEC to monitor the elections. Noor said they had registered 150,000 individuals -- poll observers and media representatives --- to oversee the process.
“I don’t think the withdrawal of two international observer missions would have any effect on the observation process because we have as many as 67 local observation foundations, a number that is higher than we had in the previous elections,” he said.
He said the Afghans poll monitoring groups were capable to do the job effectively; hoping Afghan security forces would be able to protect international and local observers.
However, the OSCE is yet to make a final call on canceling its election support mission, although its staff had already left for Turkey.
EU's chief observer Thijs Bernam told Pajhwok Afghan News they would monitor the elections until finished.
Meanwhile, Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan spokesman Mohammad Fahim Naeemi said the presence of foreign observers during the elections was important from the prospective of the vote’s international recognition.
However, he stressed local observation bodies could play a vital role because they could reach more polling stations than foreigners.
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