Poll observers welcome selection committee reform
KABUL (Pajhwok): Election observers on Monday welcomed the proposed reforms omitting names of both houses of parliament speakers from the election commission’s selection committee.
They said the omission would make the election commission members’ selection process more transparent and efficient.
Last week, the Electoral Reform Commission submitted its suggestions to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The sixth article of the proposed suggestions states: “A member of the Supreme Court, a member of the Civil Service Appointments Board, a member of the Independent Committee Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, civil society representatives, women’s representative, media representative and a member of the Independent Human Rights Commission be appointed as members of the (selection) committee.”
The list shows that among the proposed members of the Selection Committee, representatives of the media, women and a member of the civil service appointments board have been added, but membership of speakers of both houses has been scrapped.
Mohammad Naeem Ayubzadad, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) chief, said he welcomed the proposed changes to the selection committee, but said government representatives still dominated the panel.
“Adding media and women’s representatives to the committee is a praise-worthy step, but not much details have been shared about the authority of the committee and what changes being brought to its authority,” he remarked.
Ayubzada said the current committee had been under pressure from the government in the previous elections over the selection of election commissions’ members, thus necessitating care in reforming the panel.
Mohammad Yousuf Rashid, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) executive head, also welcomed reforms in the Selection Committee, saying it would ensure independence and efficiency in the body’s duties.
“Earlier civil society representatives did not have a vibrant presence in the committee and the majority of its members were government officials who had to obey political figures and high-ranking government officials. A balance between government and non-governmental institutions will resolve the problems to some extent,” he added.
Earlier, the Selection Committee was responsible to introduce 28 individuals as members of the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) and 15 individuals as members of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) to the president.
From among these figures, the president would select nine persons as IEC members and five as IECC members.
The FEFA head said after starting its work, the selection committee should specify under which criteria they would choose members of the two election bodies.
To ensure transparency, Rashid said, the process should be open and the masses should be kept informed about it.
On Sunday, President Ghani decreed seven suggestions of the Electoral Reform Commission and called for urgent measures to provide legal cover for the proposals approved.
A Cabinet member told Pajhwok Afghan News the president decreed the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth suggestions of the reform panel.
In these suggestions, the source said, voter lists, accountability of the election commissions, the presence of two foreigners on the complaints commission, a reserved seat for Hindus and Sikhs in Wolesi Jirga, distribution of electronic ID cards, dissolving of the current voter cards, and increasing women’s representation in provincial councils and district councils to 25 percent.
In the decree, the president directed the special reforms panel to scrutinise all the legal, technical and practical aspects of their suggestions and present their detailed proposals to the chief executive’s office (CEO).
A member of the panel, wishing to go unnamed, told Pajhwok Afghan News the three suggestions (first, second, eighth) that the president did not include in his decree, included changes to the electoral system, making some constituencies smaller and formation of a transparency commission.
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