Political issues should not affect polls: Nuristani
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief on Wednesday said parliamentary elections had been postponed for at least a year due to political issues and warned that unconstitutionally removing the commission’s members would endanger Afghanistan’s future.
Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani told reporters in Kabul the commission had chosen the month of April for the parliamentary and district council elections, but had to cancel the ballots due to political issues.
Now that months had passed, he said, there remained no hope for a short-term political solution and the delay in holding the elections might take even more than a year.
Nuristani said they had been ready to hold the elections as scheduled, but they were not allocated enough budget at the time.
He said if the government provided them with financial resources and security, they were ready to conduct elections very soon.
The IEC, he said, had repeatedly clarified that insecurity, interference by powerful individuals, lack of oversight by relevant organisations and some employees of the commission were of the main reasons behind electoral fraud in the previous elections.
“As long as there is insecurity and lack of rule of law all over the country, it’s hard to witness 100 percent standard elections,” he remarked, urging the government to keep elections away from political matters and not delay further holding the elections.
According to Nuristan, it was the commission’s responsibility to set election dates. The government, he said, should prevent irresponsible comments from some individuals, respect the Constitution and avoid amending the electoral laws.
“Under the relevant law, commissioners on the Independent Election Commission are selected for a period of six years and nobody can sack them. But if someone tries to violate the law, it would be dangerous for the future of the country,” he cautioned.
The Electoral Reform Commission embarked on its work three weeks back and is due to submit its first set of suggestions to the government. The suggestions may include sacking of some election commissioners.
Nuristani said he would welcome the reform panels’ suggestions only if the proposals were within the ambit of law, but beyond that would not be acceptable to the IEC.
For reducing incidents of electoral fraud, he said, the IEC had taken into consideration some short-term technical reforms and had submitted their suggestions to President Ashraf Ghani in this regard.
The suggestions presented to the president concerned preparing of voter lists, preventing fraud through fake voter cards, preventing multiple voting, improving monitoring and discarding extra voter cards, he elaborated.
The top electoral official said reducing election costs also were among other reforms they had taken into consideration. The costs would be reduced from $117 million to $63 million, he added.
About the cut in foreign aid to the commission, he said: “It is the responsibility of the government to arrange funds for holding elections. We expect foreigners to respect the Afghan laws and not to interfere in our domestic matters.”