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High demand for poll observers sparks fraud concern

High demand for poll observers sparks fraud concern

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On
Oct 10, 2018 - 18:54

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Advertisements by some Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon candidates to find election observers has increased demand for observers, but election oversight institutes fear some candidates may buy votes this way.

The election campaign kicked off on September 31 and will continue until October 17, ending just three days before the Election Day.

Election contenders reaching in number 2,065 nationwide, including 804 in Kabul, have been busy wooing voters by holding rallies, meetings and decorating roads and streets with their posters.

Besides organizing gatherings, a number of candidates also use Facebook pages for finding election observers.

According to the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon), the condition for voting is the attachment of an electoral sticker to voters’ identity cards (Tazkira).

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A Facebook page “JOB” has announced jobs in Afghanistaninfo-icon in a recent post for 300 election observers in the sixth and 13th police district of capital Kabul against a 1,000 afghanis per day.

According to this post, the observer must be a school graduate and has his/her voter card.

The admin of the page, Niamatullah Razapor, told Pajhwok Afghan News that observers would work for a specific candidate. However, he did not name the candidate.

Asked whether observers were obligated to vote for that candidate, he said, “No, it does not mean that the election observers must vote to that specific candidate.”

Samim Jebra, a Facebook user in a comment on this post writes: “Please keep that 1,000 afghanis in your own pocket, only stupid people would sell their votes.”

Darwish Khaliqi, another Facebook user, also posted a similar job announcement on his wall. Khaliqi in his job announcement said: “Only those are accepted who have voter cards and have no collaboration with other candidates.”

He said observers on the Election Day would be hired only for four hours against a fee of 2,500 afghanis.

About voter cards of observers, he said they share candidates’ plans with people and it did not mean they would vote for that candidate.

Roshan Group, another Facebook page user, also posted a similar announcement. The post says observers must have voter cards and should be above 18 years of age.

A member of the group was contacted, but he refused to answer questions from this  scribe.

Another Facebook page named, (اعلانات کاريابى و بازرګاني) posted a job announcement and says it needs 15,000 observers and each would receive 5,000 afghanis on the Election Day.

The post said observers must be above the age of 18. However, there are no more conditions for the job. Pajhwok could not receive a response from this page either.

Mehdi Muhabat, a Facebook user in his comment on this post, said: “They buy your vote for 5,000 afghanis, please remember your vote is your dignity.”

Zabihullah Haidari, another Facebook user, also commented on this post and said: “We are 30 people, we all have bachelor’s degrees, some of us are teachers. Can you please include your address? So we meet you next Friday.”

Election oversight institutes’ concerns

Habib Nang, head of Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA), said employing observers on the condition they must have voter cards and could receive up to 5,000 afghanis meant the candidates were buying their votes.

He said they had also received reports that some candidates wanted to hire observers for finding them votes. “I think this is concerning, and it negative impacts public morale,” he said.

Nang said candidates should explain from which source they would give 5,000 afghanis to each observer.

The IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) should investigate issue and bring those responsible to justice, he added.

ETWA has also launched an investigation into the issue and it would publish its report in the media once the probe completed, Nang said.

Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) head, Yousuf Rashid, about observers obligation to vote for their employing candidates  cards, said: “Candidates can hire people only for observation, they cannot demand their votes.”

He said candidates who advertized to hire observers with the condition they must have voter cards would force observers to vote them.

“Candidates hire observers with this specific condition in order to do two jobs, vote them and observe the election process for them,” he added.

Without giving details, Rashid said some candidates had signed agreements with some election oversight institutes based on which the candidates would pay money to election observers and watchdogs would give credentials to them.

Based on such agreements, the observers would mostly work for candidates who paid them money, he added.

However, IEC deputy spokesman, Sabihullah Sadat, said no one could force anyone to vote for a specific candidate because the voting process was secret.

He said a voter was not allowed to take his camera enabled phone or take picture of ballot papers.

Sadat said the IEC was following such frauds and if any candidate tried to buy someone’s votes, he or she would be taken to justice.

mds/ma

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