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Watchdogs doubt Ghani's electoral reforms plan

Watchdogs doubt Ghani's electoral reforms plan

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On
Feb 07, 2015 - 17:45

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Election watchdogs on Saturday praised the unity government’s commitment to reforming the electoral system and stressed early creation of the proposed commission in this regard.

Electoral reforms are part of the national unity government agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. Under the agreement, a new commission on electoral reforms will be created through a presidential decree.

President Ghani has called election reforms one of his primary goals.  The president last week ordered his first vice-president to identify problems in the electoral system in coordination with civil societyinfo-icon and the election commissions.

The Presidential Palace has confirmed receiving suggestions about electoral reforms from civil society institutes and the proposals would be reviewed by political parties and experts.

But Abdullah’s office has stressed the creation of a special commission to bring reforms to the electoral system.

Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (TEFA) chief Naeem Ayubzada told Pajhwok Afghan News his organisation appreciated every effort of the government at reforming the electoral system, but said entrusting the first vice-president with the job alone was not enough.

“Problems in previous elections had been unusual because we have not witnessed them in other countries. The creation of a commission is needed for reforms,” he said.

He said the president’s plan of tasking his VP Sarwar Danish with identifying electoral problems and finding solutions to them was against the unity government deal.

He claimed the president lacked a clear plan to improve the electoral system and it seemed future elections would not be credible and transparent.

He warned if the government failed to bring reforms to the system, the upcoming parliamentary elections would face many challenges.

Ayubzada said relevant authorities in the proposed commission would jointly work to avoid irregularities that plagued the April 5 elections.

Meanwhile, Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) chief Mohammad Yousuf Rashid hailed leaders’ plan to reform the electoral system.

He said reforms in the system should ensure transparency. “We request the government to create a commission for election reforms, which are free from political influence and corruption,” Yousuf said.

He said the commission should have enough powers so that it could independently review problems in the previous elections and introduce effective reforms to the system.

But Yousuf said he was concerned about differences between the president and the CEO over the election reforms issue and said the reform process would fail if any side tried to influence it.

mds/rm/ma

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