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Watchdog pessimistic about timely Wolesi Jirga polls

Watchdog pessimistic about timely Wolesi Jirga polls

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Jan 11, 2018 - 20:33

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Election Reform Advocacy Group (ERAG) and the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (FEFA) on Thursday termed the resumption of the Selection Committee’s work against the law.

ERAG was established one year back with technical and general support of FEFA comprised of 100 representatives from civil societyinfo-icon organizations. It works in the area of election reforms and making the process transparent.

The group rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s decision reviving the Selection Committee’s work to pick candidates for a vacant post in the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) after the removal of IEC former Head Najibullah Ahmadzai.

The president decision drew criticism from election watchdogs and experts. The five-member Selection Committee is comprised of representatives from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Independent Oversight Commission on Implementation of the Constitution (IOCIC), judiciary, civil society organizations, election watchdogs, and womeninfo-icon’s rights organizations.

Farid Afghanzai, technical advisor at FEFA, told reporters here the conduct of future polls would be difficult in a situation where one IEC member could not be introduced so far.

“Discussions about the elections are underway, but the polls may not take place on the given deadline,” he said.

The IEC has already announced July 18 this year the date for holding the much delayed parliamentary and district council elections.

Afghanzai said the presidential decree regarding the resumption of Selection Committee work was against Clause 3 of Article 16 of the election law.

The clause says : “In case of resignation, termination or death of one or more members of the Commission, the President shall appoint new member (s) from amongst the remaining nominees stipulated in clause (2) of the Article (14) of this law; with due consideration of the ethnic and gender composition.”

“Not only the selection committee duty is illegal, its formation is also incomplete under the election law because this committee has no election observers,” Afghanzai said.

Despite the committee being illegal, it should at least introduce figures having leadership skills to be able to manage the unbridled situation in the election commission and the election process, he added.

He asked political parties to try to make the election process transparent. “A person introduced to the election commission should have the support of all political sides.”

Afghanzai said nontransparent and biased employment in the selection committee was another problem which should be resolved.

“Shrinking electoral zones is another important issue which is a legal responsibility of the election commission, but unfortunately there is no suggestions from this commission to the government in this regard and it is a vague issue in electoral discussions,” he said.

He said the division of Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon seats was an issue the election commission could debate on. In 2005 elections, these seats were divided based on the country’s 21 million populations, but the current population is 29 millions.

“The voter list is one of the most important and fundamental election discussions, but unfortunately this issue is not implemented due to some initial plans of the election commission and the voters are expected to register based on their old (paper based) identity cards,” Afghanzai concluded.

bh/mds/ma

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