Electoral reform commission swings into action
KABUL (Pajhwok): As the Electoral Reform Commission formally started its work on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah said the panel would not be a symbolic body because the unity government remained committed to electoral reforms.
Electoral reforms are a major point of the US-brokered agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah on a national unity government.
Four months back, lawmaker Shukria Barakzai was appointed by President Ghani to head the electoral reform panel but the CEO disagreed with her appointment. On the eve of Eid, President Ghani decreed establishing the commission and appointing its members.
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.
Addressing the panel’s maiden meeting, Abdullah said the past 14 years experience showed the Afghans wanted electoral reforms on a priority basis and launch of work by the commission was a major step in this regard.
He said the unity government had a strong political will to introduce electoral reforms and the commission’s work would not be symbolic. The panel started its work late, he said, asking its members to make up for the time lost. He hoped the commission would finish its task in a timely manner.
Assuring government’s full support to the panel, the CEO said the panel failed in achieving its objects, it would not only be detrimental to the commission itself but to the entire nation. The commission’s head said they would make every effort possible to ensure accuracy and impartiality in their work.
“We believe that the electoral reform commission is not supposed to work for a particular individual, group or party, but to bring necessary reforms in the electoral system for the sake of transparent future elections,” Shah Sultan Akefi added.
Earlier, election observers had welcomed the establishment of the electoral reform commission, but they were skeptical about its independence, saying majority of its members were affiliated with the leaders of the unity government.
Akefi promised they would try and listen to views from different segments of society and even leaders of the government to incorporate them in reforms. He said they would also study international experiences and would take them into consideration in the reform process.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, UN Secretary-General’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and a member of the commission, said UNAMA was proud to be part of the panel and considered it a major step toward restoring people’s trust in the electoral process.
“We believe the commission would utilise this opportunity well and with its efforts would make the electoral process very strong,” Yamamoto said UNAMA’s role in the commission would be advisory and would not have the right to vote despite attending all meetings.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in a statement has welcomed the inaugural meeting of the Electoral Reforms Commission.
“The U.S. Embassy welcomes the inaugural meeting of the Special Electoral Reform Commission (SERC). The Commission represents yet another sign of Afghanistan’s commitment to democratic principles including a credible, fair, and transparent electoral process,” the Embassy said in a statement.
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