Electoral reform panel not independent: watchdogs
KABUL (Pajhwok): Election observers on Monday welcomed the establishment of the Electoral Reform Commission, but feared the panel’s independence as the majority of its members were affiliated with both leaders of the unity government.
Electoral reforms are a major point of the unity government agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah.
Four months back, lawmaker Shukria Barakzai was appointed by President Ghani to head the electoral reform panel but faced disapproval from the CEO.
On the eve of Eid, President Ghani through a decree established the commission and appointed its members.
According to the decree, Shah Sultan Akefi is the head, Sediqullah Tawhidi his deputy, Kawoon Kakar, Mohammad Ali Amiri, Abdul Qadeer Karyab, Bashir Farooq, Asadullah Sadati, Faizullah Zaki, Saleh Mohammad Regestani, Shah Mahmood Mia Khail, Sabrina Saqeb, Dr. Alema, Abdul Majid Ghanizada and Tadamichi Yamamoto are members of the panel.
Javed Faisal, the CEO’s deputy spokesman, said both leaders of the unity government had complete agreement over the panel’s composition.
He admitted the panel comprised representatives of the both leaders but said it also represented civil society and the UN. “The commission’s main responsibility is to suggest electoral reforms. The commission’s doors are open to all organisations to share their suggestions.”
Election watchdogs welcomed the creation of the commission, but said they are not entirely optimistic about necessary reforms. They say the commission is politicized as its members are not independent and lack technical expertise.
Naeem Ayubzada, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News that what concerned them were political affiliations, lack of experience, technical expertise and under-representation of women and independent observers in the panel.
He noted electoral reforms were itself a political process, but needed legal and technical expertise.
Mohammad Yousuf Rashid, executive head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), welcomed the commission, but said the majority of its members were affiliated to both leaders of the government.
He said the panel should work in coordination with elections commissions and civil society in order to bring about inclusive reforms and put to an end the public distrust over the electoral process.
Asadullah Sadati, a member of the reform commission, said the panel would work independently and impartially. He said the commission would start its work this week.
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