Kabul: only 36 days are remaining for the parliamentary elections to be held, however, serious concerns are yet to exist on how the coming elections will be held. Transparent Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) in close cooperation and coordination with its provincial partner organizations has analyzed the ongoing electoral conditions and offers its recommendations for the betterment of the overall political and technical conditions of elections in the following passages.
Insecurity is still deemed as one of the major and most daunting challenges facing the coming elections, and misfortunately, the recent insurgent attacks and incidents in different parts of Afghanistan have added to peoples’ concerns. Even though Security institutions have assured both IEC and citizens of their security on Election Day and while transporting sensitive and less-sensitive electoral materials to polling centers, still intensification of insecurities in provinces such as Kabul, Nangarhar, and Balkh have created distrusts among citizens regarding their safety on Election Day. In addition to the daunting security concerns, dominating political climate and political parties’ positioning in recent times have garbled the sound electoral atmosphere, at times when political parties lack of consensus due to not having their demands accepted, has further made the situations convulsive. IEC’s operational and technical activities have not been synchronous with the Election Calendar as they were anticipated, keeping IEC far behind the calendar in various matters which has resulted in violation of election law and generating concerns in regards to procrastination of the coming elections.
Disputes between IEC’s members and its Secretariat, absence of a well-defined mechanism for ensuring transparency, undefined terms of reference of the Committee for assessing stickers on fake national ID cards, asynchronous dissemination of voters’ list with election calendar, exertion of power on citizens by armed and powerful men on provincial level, existence of proxy polling centers in most provinces of Afghanistan which are likely not to be opened on E-Day, lack of female workers and Political parties’ proclamations and claims concerning heavy misconducts, and fraudulent practices in the Voter Registration process, have formed major drawbacks and shortcomings which tend to jeopardize the overall electoral conditions and have created major and serious concerns, while disappointingly, Afghan government and IEC have miserably failed to provide a justifying response for these problematic issues.
TEFA believes the existing conditions to be an imperiling challenge for the overall electoral process and therefore offers the following recommendations for its betterment:
1. Elections should be held on its exact date as defined in the election calendar without any procrastination, because this time around, delays in holding the elections regardless of what the reason would be will surely not be acceptable at any cost.
2. Political parties must prove and justify their claims and should share the complete documents with Election Commissions.
3. Presence of international observers in elections is deemed highly crucial in electoral process, which is why TEFA requests international organizations in Afghanistan to ensure their presence alongside national observers especially on Election Day.
4. For making the Afghan Government responsive to the general public, TEFA requests international community to prioritize the conduct of transparent and acceptable elections as a prime reason for extending their aids in their Agenda in the Geneva Conference.
5. By far, no specific project has been implemented to ensure wide and major participation of Vulnerable groups such as PWDs and women, which is why TEFA expects IEC to run awareness campaigns with the help of its provincial offices till the very day of Elections.
6. IEC should clarify its intention that whether or not it will use biometric system on Election Day and should content the political parties.
7. TEFA considers political parties’ demands concerning transition in electoral system impractical as the time for it is extremely inadequate and short, and requests them to endeavor in using other mechanisms and ways for ensuring transparency in elections and securing more chairs in the future parliament.
8. Committees that are established for assessing proxy voters and stickers on fake National ID cards should provide their work results as soon as possible.
TEFA’s concern in regards to the recent electoral process