Experts warn against delay in parliamentary polls
KABUL (Pajhwok): Political experts have warned against a delay in holding the next parliamentary elections at the expense of proposed electoral reforms as part of the unity government deal.
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah have agreed to bring reforms to the electoral system under a deal following the bitterly disputed presidential election last year.
The president last week tasked his second deputy Sarwar Danish with investigating issues concerning the proposed electoral reforms in consultation with civil society groups.
But the CEO office has insisted on the creation of a special commission on electoral reforms in line with the unity government deal, calling the delay in the panel’s formation as questionable.
The Constitution binds the government to hold the elections to parliament’s lower house in April-May.
Political science teacher at Kabul University, Wadir Safi, told Pajhwok Afghan News electoral reforms should be carried out, but the parliamentary elections should not be postponed.
He said if the voting was delayed from its original date then the sitting parliament would lose its credibility and its decisions would be unacceptable.
The teacher urged government officials not to prolong the tenure of the incumbent Wolesi Jirga under any circumstances in order to keep people’s trust intact in the legislature.
“My suggestion is that the elections should be held on schedule and clean people should be appointed in the electoral bodies to prevent fraud, which always originates from candidates. If candidates avoid fraud, there will be no fraud.”
However, election officials are appointed for a term of six years and the incumbent election officials have been appointed about a year ago. The sitting electoral officials could be removed if the relevant law is amended.
Amendments to the election law are currently being debated in the lower house.
Under the constitution, parliament cannot amend any law in its last legislative year, but the Wolesi Jirga’s administrative board insists the amendments had been approved before.
Another political expert, Faiz Mohammad Zaland, also said the parliamentary elections should be held in line with the Constitution. He said a delay under the pretext of electoral reforms would be illegal.
He warned if the elections were delayed, the government would lose it credibility. He saw no need to defer the ballot, saying the government could easily put in place effective mechanisms in a short span of time with the experience from past elections.
Zaland said the delay could bring misfortunes to the already oppressed and war-weary Afghans.
Besides electoral reforms, the government should introduce reforms to other key sectors in order to pave the ground for economic development, peace and stability, he said.
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