ACSEN Preliminary Recommendations for Electoral Reform
Following the allegations of mass fraud and electoral irregularities in the 2014 Elections, the agreement signed by the National Unity Government committed to undertaking structural and legal electoral reforms to address key challenges in Afghanistan’s elections process and elections management bodies. The compromised elections instructions had far reaching effects that negatively impacted Afghanistan’s struggling economy and growing democracy.
This Pre-Conference document is designed to highlight key recommendations for electoral reform identified by ACSEN members. Following the joint advocacy conference, ACSEN will revise this preliminary document to incorporate discussions and reform recommendations from civil society, analysts and election stakeholders to be officially submitted to the Parliament, Office of the President and CEO, IEC and IECC.
Impacts of Electoral Reform on the Parliamentary Elections
The electoral reform agenda will have immediate impacts on the upcoming Parliamentary elections. ACSEN recommends the following adjustments the upcoming Parliamentary Elections Calendar and elections process;
To effectively implement the proposed electoral reform commitments by the National Unity Government, ACSEN recommends that the Parliamentary Elections are postponed to 2016
In coordination with the Office of the President, the Constitutional Oversight Commission should define what impact this delay would have on legislative processes within the Parliament
Short-term elections reforms that can be feasibly implemented for the Parliamentary elections should be identified
Long-term elections that should be implemented after the Parliamentary elections should be identified
ACSEN recommends that the system for registering voters that was proposed by the National Unity Government be categorized as long-term electoral reform commitmentE-Tazkera
- Currently, the E-Tazkera system cannot be effectively implemented before Parliamentary Elections.
The current electoral law that provides new provisions which make it technically and operationally more difficult to conduct Parliamentary Elections should be addressed:
The Kuchi(Nomad) constituency is divided into (7) single member constituencies and female Kuchi candidates the whole country will be one constituency(Article 23-1-2).
The new amendment by legislative decree of the President creates one seat for Hindu and Sikh constituency where the whole country is one constituency.
- IEC technical and administrative capacity has serious problems and the IEC secretariat as responsible for overall electoral operations lacks a sound and professional management.
- While considering the operations of election, we should have had the parliamentary electoral campaign two months before. We do not see any preparation from IEC and there is no news on financial support of the parliamentary elections.
- Restoring the confidence of the public on such important processes and values need time, therefore we see the delay of the parliamentary and district councils elections can positively impact on the perceptions.
Recommendations for Reforming the Selection Committee Structure of the IEC and IECC
- ACSEN recommends that the selection committee structure is revised five members which should consist of the following representative bodies;
- 1 Elected member from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court
- 1 Elected commissioner from the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission
- 1 Elected member from the committee chairs of the Mishrano Jirga
- 2 Elected members from elections focused civil society organizations
The chairs of the IEC and IECC selection committees should be internally selected amongst committee members
The government should provide the logistical and administrative support to the IEC and IECC selection committees
An independent body should record and publish selection committee meetings for public review
Alternatively, ACSEN recommends that the selection committee hosts open sessions with media and relevant stakeholders in shortlisting the applicants for IEC and IECC commissioners
The activities of the selection committee should be archived in publicly accessible domains at the end of their work at the IEC and IECC
Nominations of the IECC commissioners should come from the judiciary and legal system to increase the professionalism of the IECC’s adjudication process
The selection committee should develop a publicly accessible database to record all applicants for the IEC and IECC commissioners to show that shortlisted applicants were selected on a balanced merit based system
Shortlisted applicants should be shared with the public to promote transparency in the selection process
A gender and ethnic balance should be considered in the recommendation of IEC and IECC commissioners to the Office of the President
The selection committee should conduct interviews with shortlisted applicants before recommending potential IEC and IECC commissioners to the Office of the President.
The selection committee should review and assess existing complaints amongst shortlisted applicants before recommending potential IEC and IECC commissioners to the Office of the President
Selected commissioners by the Office of the President should be sent to the Parliament for approval prior to assuming their positions within the electoral management bodies
- The Parliament should provide justifications for not approving selected commissioners to the President’s office within 10-15 days
Recommendations for Reforming the IEC and IECC
- The number of IEC commissioners should be reduced to 7
- The condition of past and related experience of the applicant commissioners shall be added.
- Two members of the IEC’s seven member commission should be composed unbiased technical experts and observers from the international community
The number of IECC commissioners should be increased to 7
Two members of the IEC’s seven member commission should be composed unbiased technical experts and observers from the international community
The IEC and IECC should provide programmatic and financial reports to an accountable body within Afghanistan’s governmentsystem for review
A joint committee or judiciary to review the IEC’s and IECC’s programmatic and financial reports should be established within parliament
These reports should be made publicly accessible via the IEC and IECC website
Reports should detail and distinguish financial and in kind benefits provided to IEC and IECC commissioners
The IEC and IECC should facilitate the presence of civil society observers and media throughout the electoral process by providing accessible regarding key decisions undertaken by the electoral management bodies
The ascribed to the IEC under the Electoral Law should be clearly defined“evaluation of electoral processes”
Review and redefine the roles, responsibilities and missions of the IEC and IECC
- Distinguish the roles and responsibilities of relevant election departments within and between the IEC and IECC
- Review the assessment of the complaints process at both the National and Provincial levels
Operations and personnel recruitment of the IECC should be based on the following criteria
- Investments will need to take into account the unique needs of each Province
- Enhance accessibility of the electoral management bodies to citizen complaints
- Assessment of the cost-effectiveness of the IECC at the national and provincial levels
IEC and IECC staff at the national and provincial should be selected on a competitive, impartial and merit based process
Develop policies for dismissing IEC and IECC commissioners if found in violation of established electoral guidelines
A mechanism for appealing provincial level complaints to the national IECC should be established
There should be an increased investment in the IECC’s public outreach activities to ensure that citizens and candidates are aware of filing processes and procedures to promote citizen accountability in the elections process
The IECC should provide timely information on adjudication of filed complaints to individuals or parties filing complaints
Public adjudication of complaints should be undertaken by the IECC
Government and Electoral management bodies should be held accountable to Judiciary or Parliament or the National Constitution Oversight commission when in violation of the Electoral Law
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