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Tension dominates ECC environment, finds watchdog

Tension dominates ECC environment, finds watchdog

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Jul 06, 2017 - 02:47

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): An election watchdog on Wednesday announced withdrawing from carrying out an evaluation of capacity challenges of the Electoral Complaints Commission, citing “serious disagreements” between members of the secretariat and commissioners.

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (TEFA) released findings of the partially completed evaluation that said ECCinfo-icon secretariat departments ignored decisions of the commissioners and the chairperson.

The watchdog said there were serious irregularities within the ECC including denial of fundamental changes and reforms by some departments of the commission’s secretariat.

The TEFA said it accepted to voluntarily do a comprehensive evaluation of the capacity and weaknesses of the ECC, for the very first time, based on a formal request from the electoral body.

After meetings with relevant civil societyinfo-icon organizations, MIC officials, UNAMA representative at ECC office; TEFA accepted the evaluation and committed to preparing and presenting a reform guide to address capacity and administrative challenges of the ECC.

In a statement, TEFA said the evaluation was aimed at helping ECC to develop its internal capacity, identify and tackle existing challenges and ultimately better manage and fairly address electoral complaints.

Beginning on 31/02/1396, heads of almost every department of ECC were interviewed one-on-one based on pre-designed questionnaires as well direct observation in ECC’s internal level, but the survey could not be completed due to some serious obstacles and challenges by ECC’s secretariat.

The statement said the mentioned factors convinced TEFA that continuation of the evaluation wasn’t feasible in a professional and impartial way and it could intensify ECC’s internal conflicts and also cause  damage to the credibility and position of TEFA as an independent entity.

“Therefore, Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, despite having the commitment and eagerness to carry out this assessment, and to maintain the principle of impartiality and professionalism, withdraws from this process.”

In its partial evaluation, TEFA said the absolute majority of the commission staff were men and no womeninfo-icon headed neither of the nine departments or the two deputies and in general no significant managerial role had been assigned to women in the commission.

It claimed ethnic composition of ECC staff had not been fairly considered as the majority of its staff was composed of two specific provinces.

The commission was not a solid and united body in terms of management and execution, and there were many islands of jurisdiction in the commission

TEFA said the head of the commission's secretariat as executive director was not competent to control the situation and the departments under his supervision did not follow his directions and orders in most cases.

“There are serious differences in executive and management levels between the commissioners and some of the secretariat’s departments.”

TEFA said it found a weak capacity level in management the commission affairs, with turmoil dominating its internal environmentinfo-icon.

The Commission's Secretariat faced lack of policies and working documents as guidelines and working principles and there was significant overlapping of responsibilities among different departments of the ECC.

Logistical supports and office facilities provided by international donors to the ECC in the past had not been documented and logged in. Most of the equipment were either taken back by donors or no information was available about them.

TEFA said, however, the majority of commissioners were committed to reform and improving ECC’s capacity, but the mentioned problems were making it almost impossible.

The watchdog also asked the Afghanistan government to provide required resources and technical assistance to the ECC which had to strengthen and improve its executive capacity to be able to implement its electoral plans.

The organization also asked international election partners to provide technical and financial assistance to the commission in accordance with its needs and requirements.

Mechanism of cooperation between the two commissions should be reviewed, strengthened and a clarified and enforceable measure for this should be prepared and approved, it suggested.

TEFA urged international partners as well as political parties, civil society organizations and women to pay close attention to these problems and help the commission to overcome them.

pr/ma

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