Consultative meetings on polls begin in Paktia
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials say they have started holding consultative meetings with civil society activists and tribal elders on elections related problems in southeastern Paktia province.
They say the meetings are aimed at identifying problems in the previous elections to avoid their repetition and work for their solution so that the future elections are transparent.
IEC official Sher Ali Faizi told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had been in contact with tribal elders and civil society groups over the past one month discussing elections related subjects.
He said the civil society had mentioned up to 15 problems that plagued the previous elections. He said they had acknowledged those problems to the greater extent and would work jointly with elders and the society to avoid their recurrence.
He said few of the important problems discussed included the distribution of ballot boxes beyond the voter lists, issuance of more than one voter cards to a single person, the absence of observers, lack of transparency in appointment of election duty officials, insecurity, lack of coordination between observers and police and negligence in duty.
Faizi said some of the problems were related to the IEC and others to other departments and claimed they had tried their level best to maintain transparency in issues relating to the IEC.
Civil society activists and experts welcomed the IEC for initiating consultative meetings with them, but they stressed practical steps to resolve electoral problems.
Loya Paktia Culture Centre head Syed Jamaluddin Asafkhel said such consultative meetings with civil society groups would have a positive outcome and could bring about transparency in electoral matters.
He said the authorities concerned should take practical steps to resolve problems concerning elections.
He said the civil society had some proposals which needed to be jointly enforced by the IEC, government departments and the people.
Asafkhel called for issuance of electronic identity cards and reforms in the electoral system and suggested that previously issued voter cards should be declared void and four constituencies created in each province.
Civil society activist Anar Gul, who had participated in consultative meetings with IEC officials, said the government and other parties should not cut deals on elections and instead pay attention to problems for the sake of a transparent ballot.
He recalled the first round of presidential election had been transparent somewhat, but every candidate committed and initiated acts that questioned the runoff vote’s transparency.
He said efforts should be made to ensure that the future elections were transparent in order to protect people’s rights and prevent any political deadlock.
Paktia provincial council member Dr. Allah Mir Zazai held the IEC and the government responsible for failing to hold elections as per people’s wish and the relevant law.
He said the government’s and the IEC’s mistakes and weaknesses had eroded people’s trust in elections and people would not easily partake in polls until they were given a strong guarantee.
Zazai said if the previous mistakes were repeated in the upcoming parliamentary elections, powerful and illegible people would find their way to the lower house and they would create problems for the government.
Wadan Afghanistan political party member in Paktia, Syed Rahman Niazi, told Pajhwok Afghan News the people had lost faith in elections for three reasons.
He mentioned the three reasons as illegal activities of candidates and their supporters, accepting bribes by IEC officials in return for succeeding candidates and cutting deal on people’s votes.
He said civil society groups could do much to resolve such issues by working independently.
Widespread fraud allegations marred both rounds of the presidential election, sparking a months-long political impasse.
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah in their unity government deal have agreed to implement electoral reforms.
Months after the unity government’s inauguration, an electoral reforms commission was formed, but the panel is yet to start its job.
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