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‘Electoral reforms require practical steps from rulers’

‘Electoral reforms require practical steps from rulers’

Apr 23, 2015 - 18:40

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (FEFA) on Thursday urged the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon to call for practical steps from government leaders regarding electoral reforms.

Calling electoral reforms as vital for the next parliamentary elections and future polls, FEFA chief Mohammad Yusuf Rashid told reporters in Kabul that differences between President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah had raised concerns.

He stressed the unity government leaders should go beyond rhetoric by taking practical steps for reforms, otherwise, he warned the available opportunities would be lost and the nascent democracy retrograded.

Rashid urged the newly-created Electoral Reforms Commission to formally launch its activities at the earliest and come up with suggestions and solutions.

“The draft amendments to the law on structure, responsibilities, and powers of the poll panels remain undecided in the lower house of parliament. We want the lawmakers to finalise their discussions on the proposed changes.”

Rashid said it was necessary to firm up a specific date for holding the next parliamentary elections. However, the government has said the elections might be postponed for a year, citing a shortage of budget.

The FEFA also released a 288-page report on last fall’s presidential elections. The report discusses challenges in the elections and proposes a set of suggestions for electoral reforms.

Naeem Asghari, FEFA programme manager, said both the poll panels had violated laws at least on 36 occasions during the previous elections. “In order to resolve such issues, changes to the electoral law and the constitution are necessary.”

Hekmat Safi, FEFA’s parliamentary affairs oversight head, said fraud was a major issue that tainted the previous elections and affected public trust in the democratic exercise.

“Now we are concerned that if those involved in fraud last year are not introduced to judicial organs, the parliamentary elections would also witness the same fate and fraud would become a custom,” he added.

FEFA also underlined the importance of electronic ID cards, saying their distribution would drastically decrease electoral fraud.



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