IEC under fire for not releasing vote totals
On Sunday, in a hurriedly called short-lived press conference, IEC chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani announced Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai the winner, without releasing vote totals that underwent a long audit for fraud.
The IEC announcemen came after the two presidential candidates inked an accord on a unity government. One of Abdullah's final demands in talks with Ahmadzai was that the election commission not release the vote count because of the fraud he alleges took place.
Experts believed immense pressure from various segments, notably from Abdullah’s camp and the UN, forced the IEC not to disclose the vote totals.
However, leaked results showed Ghani Ahmadzai took about 55 percent and Abdullah roughly 45 percent of the vote.
“The election commission has violated the law by skipping its duty not to announce the vote count,” said Dastgir Hidayat, a political expert. “This act not only raises so many questions among voters but in itself questions the IEC’s reputation”, Hidayat added.
Shehla Farid, a Kabul University professor, said the IEC had hammered the last nail in the coffin of democracy in Afghanistan by not releasing the vote totals. She, however, acknowledged that the election body was under immense pressure.
“Had the chief election commissioner, who has proven himself incapable, ensured transparency in the first round, the entire election process would not have been disgraced the way it has been”, she noted.
Abdul Hamid Mubaraz, a senior journalist, stressed the IEC must announce the vote count so that people could get enlightened about the fraud committed.
On Sunday, the IEC chief congratulated Ashraf Ghani on his victory in the presidential election and Abdullah on his naming to the chief executive post.
Bizan said IEC had no legal right to offer facilitation as an independent organ.
While Shahla said the text of the result announcement was prepared with the consent of both the candidates. She added the facilitation behalf of the IEC was an illegal act.
At yesterday’s press conference, the IEC chief said votes cast in 1,260 ballot boxes had been declared invalid and votes cast in 9,677 polling stations recounted.
He said thousands of votes were invalidated but none from the contenders had challenged the Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC)’s decisions. Under the relevant law, the IEC gave 24 hours to both the campaigns to challenge its decisions.
Ustad Shahla said the IEC chief had undermined the IEC’s role after admitting fraud in the elections.
Analysts suggested both the teams should jointly work for Afghanistan’s development and prosperity and put aside all their differences.
Mubariz said Afghans suffered a lot due to the prolonged electoral crisis and now Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani should work hard to resolve problems facing the nation.
Bashir Bizan said both the leaders should introduce sincere and talented people to run administrative affairs and should bring reforms to the IEC.
Another political analyst Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said now the International community should put pressure on Abdullah to work under Ashraf Ghani’s supervision because he was the president of Afghanistan.
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