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TEFA voices concern at interference in electoral affairs

TEFA voices concern at interference in electoral affairs

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Mar 20, 2019 - 13:07

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): An election watchdog has accused newly-appointed members of the two electoral commissions of lacking a clear agenda and unfamiliarity with the process.

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (TEFA) alleged interference from the government and some political circles in affairs of the poll panels had made reforms impossible.

TEFA head Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, addressing a press conference in Kabul, expressed his dissatisfaction with the work of the new members of the electoral commissions.

He claimed no effective work had been done since the new members begin their mission. Inexperience and the absence of a reform agenda were the main weakness of the new members, he added.

In their 15 working days from the date of their appointment, the commissioners had no achievements except endorsing decisions of the former members, the TEPA chief maintained.

Ayubzada charged delays in the last four elections for president, Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon, provincial and districts councils were violative of Article 61 of the Constitution. The delays and changes in elections dates would spark a crisis, he warned.

Earlier, Maulana Mohammad Abdullah, an Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) member, said they could not implement the current election schedule (July 20). The election body is 16 days behind schedule.

He said in line with the amended election law, the commission could not bring changes to the schedule after two days. Therefore, the commission should make changes within two days, he argued.

Article 61 says the presidential term shall expire on May 22 of the fifth year after elections. Elections for the new president shall be held within 30 to 60 days prior to the end of the presidential term.

“With each passing day, election-related issues are increasing. There is no coordination among members of the commissions and there is a tangible political approach. We are worried as an observer institution,” Ayubzada remarked.

According to his evaluation, the government and some political circles are meddling in election affairs. He asked the new commission members not to allow anyone to intervene and demonstrate impartiality and honestly.

He said a number of commissioners had been charged with corruption by the Attorney General Office (AGO) and put on the exit control list (ECL) but they were still not dismissed from the their jobs.

On March 12, the AGO said Ahmad Shah Zamanzai, former IEC secretariat head, Awal Rahman Rodwal, IEC’s regional chief, Abdul Aziz Samim, current deputy head of regional IEC office, Syed Ibrahim Sadat, information and technology department’s head, and Zamarai Qalamyar, sitting chief of IEC regional operations, have been put on ECL.

Five individuals have been temporarily banned from travelling abroad, pending an AGO investigation into electoral crime cases.

The TEFA chief suggested the new electoral bodies identify corrupt employees of the IEC and IECC and refer them to judicial organs before holding the presidential vote. He demanded the recruitment of capable people through a fair and transparent process.

He also called for a mechanism for separating fraudulent votes from valid ballots in order to restore people’s convince in the electoral system.

Naqibullah Ishaqzai, the TEFA’s director for Jwazjan province, criticised lack of coordination between IEC officials in Kabul and provincial staff. Despite changes in the electoral bodies, reforms were yet to be enforced in provincial offices, he complained.

Sa/pk/mud

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