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Election commissioners dismissed in haste: Watchdogs

Election commissioners dismissed in haste: Watchdogs

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Feb 13, 2019 - 16:50

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Election oversight institutes on Wednesday said the government’s decision to fire the election commission was ‘hasty’ and ‘politically motivated’ and was made under pressure from foreign and internal circles.

On Tuesday, President Ashraf Ghani decreed the dismissal of the electrion commissioners. The president said: “Heads and other members of the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) are dismissed after amendments to the electoral law are ratified and approved.”

The presidential decree provided no further details, but asked political parties registered with the Ministry of Justice and civil society institutes to introduce new eligible members for the commissions within seven days, starting from February 16, according to the article 13 of the new electoral law.

The dismissal of the election commissioners comes following chaotic Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon polls on October 20 and 21 across 32 provinces.

The IEC announced initial Wolesi Jirga election results after a three-month delay and final results from only 18 provinces have so far been announced.

Yousuf Rashid, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (FEFA), on Wednesday told Pajhwok Afghan News that the election commissioners were dismissed under foreign and local pressures.

The international community would stop funding the election processes in Afghanistan if reforms were not introduced, he said of foreign pressure.

“Unfortunately election panels themselves paved the way for this decision, they should have not delayed the election results for such a long time,” Rashid added.

“The situation has further complicated, new commissioners have to accept harder responsibilities because they have to announce the final results of Wolesi Jirga polls besides making preparations for next presidential elections,” he said.

He asked the government to create a joint team from the Attorney General Office, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Interior to protect electoral materials belonging to provinces the final results of which had not been announced.

The presidential decree says heads and secretaries of the electoral bodies would continue in acting capacity for a temporary basis so the commissions’ processes continued.

Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), expressed concern over the dismissal of election commission members in the current situation and said, “Electoral reforms have to happen anyway, we support that, but it was a very hasty decision.”

He said the Wolesi Jirga election process remained incomplete while the election commissioners had been dismissed, an issue he said would leave negative impact on the poll results and the next presidential election.

“Although the Wolesi Jirga elections were fraudulent, dismissing election commissioners in current situation is not a solution, we as an oversight institute suggests audit of votes so the process are rescued from political games,” he said.

He believed the president with his decision wanted to create a new team for himself to engineer the next presidential election in his favor.

Ayubzada said introduction of new members to the election panels would give candidates and political parties more share that would cause confrontation.

This decision of the president would victimize reforms for political motives, he added, saying amendments in the electoral law granted the president more authority in the election process, which was as highly worrisome.

Ousted commissioners of the two electoral bodies have slammed changes to the electoral law and their dismissal as illegal and politically-motivated decision.

mds/ma

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