Govt yet to explain electoral reform strategy: Nuristani
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah agreed prior to forming the unity government to establish a commission for reforming the electoral panels.
But six months on, there is no clear sign of the proposed panel being set up by an administration that has repeatedly asserted its commitment to cleaning up the electoral system.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani said the sitting commissioners could not be fired for six years.
They earnestly desire reforms in the process, he explained, hinting at certain hurdles to the long-awaited improvements.
For instance, he said: “In Kabul and provinces, we have 160 posts vacant. We want these positions to be filled by qualified individuals…”
But the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Services Commission has not yet taken steps to hire the required professionals.
In 22 provinces, the chairman said, IEC offices were led by acting heads -- something that tends to create problems. “I want to make clear the point that the government is yet to details its electoral reform policy.”
He urged the rulers to elucidate their reform plans and say in plain words whether they intended to replace the sitting commissioners or fix the system itself.
In line with the relevant law, nobody could dismiss the IEC commissioners from their positions for six years, he reiterated.
Under Article 8 of the election law, the president selects nine people, including two women, out of 27 nominees as members of the commission.
The IEC chief said members of the commission could be removed or referred to judicial organs on charges of criminal activities supported by evidence.
Nuristani linked free and fair elections to the distribution of electronic identity (ID) cards and error-free voter lists.
Meanwhile, some government officials say the distribution of electronic ID cards has been delayed due to technical problems.
The IEC head made clears that there would be a possibility of rigging in the parliamentary elections in the absence of computerized ID cards.
Cooperation from the government, security officials and the public was central to holding transparent and inclusive elections, he maintained.
“If entities I mentioned don’t cooperate with the panel, the system couldn’t be fixed even if angels descend from heavens,” Nuristani remarked, saying they had decided to sack the workers who performed poorly during the presidential vote.
Nuristan recalled Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s moves to politicise the election by rejecting the presidential ballot results.
“The CEO lent the vote a political twist. Initially, he led and accepted the outcome, but sensing his imminent defeat he came up with allegations of industrial-scale rigging,” Nuristani said.
The presidential elections were marred by fraud allegations, which led to differences between the two leading candidates. However, both demonstrated sagacity and formed the unity government.
The IEC chief asked candidates, officials and warlords not to politicise the Wolesi Jirga elections for petty personal interests. All candidates should have the courage to accept defeat with political maturity, he suggested.
Article 83 of the constitution says Wolesi Jirga members shall be elected by the people through free, general, secret and direct balloting.
The five-year assembly term will end after the announcements of election results on the 1st of June when the new parliament shall commence work.
The elections have to be held 30 to 60 days prior to the expiration of the lower house term. The number of the members of the house shall be proportionate to the population of each constituency, not exceeding a maximum of 250.
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