Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Disqualifying the Candidates: an Act to Counter Criminals or Cover Up Fraud

Elections is one of the crucial issues in Afghanistan; though it is a democratic tool to strengthen democracy and ensure ethnic diversity in the country, in Afghanistan, the dominance of the traditional norms and values have changed it to an ethnic politics. This trait has been one of the main factors behind warlords to throw their hat in the ring. Based on this electoral behavior of the Afghan ethnic groups, any measures by the Afghan Independent Electoral Complaints Commission to disqualify the national parliament and district councils’ candidates will receive mixed reactions. In other words, the Afghan ethnic groups may support the disqualification of the candidates of other ethnic groups and will strongly reject the decision of the IECC on their own candidates and term it as a political move.
However, the removal of 35 names from the final list of parliamentary and District councils’ election possible candidates by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) on Saturday, August 11, 2018, is a bold act to prevent warlords from dominating the Wolsi Jirga and DCs. The disqualified candidates have been charged with illegal armed groups, as well as involvement in security issues, coordinated crimes, drug smuggling and misuse of public and private assets. So a commitment by an independent commission to disqualify candidates having ties to militias and misusing the public assets might seem as a good beginning to cleaning up Afghanistan’s electoral process and ensure transparency in the coming elections.
Indeed, the international community will applaud this move of the IECC as they deem the parliamentary and district councils’ election as vital to improving the country’s government. At least, this IECC decision will ensure less electoral fraud and that this will help Afghans learn how to strengthen their democratic processes. This decision of the IECC is a big step toward regaining the legitimacy of the electoral system in Afghanistan. In addition, it will signal this message to the Afghans and international community that electoral achievements are sustained in Afghanistan despite the mounting problems.
Conversely, the disqualified candidates will call it an act by the government to cheat the international community and sidelining the ethnic influential candidates. Also, the IECC shall be very carious to act holistically, and shall pay specific attention not to keep the warlords accused of murdering people in its list, because the disqualified candidates will accuse the government that it is just trying to cover up its weakness to act decisively against the warlords by disqualifying these 35 candidates.  Of course, the ranks of the powerful in Afghanistan include men, and some women, that have been accused by international organizations and local politicians of involvement in crimes against fellow citizens or being involved in different illegal acts. A disqualified candidate like Zardad Fariadi, the outstanding commander of Hizb e Islami, has notorious human rights records and men under his command murdered hundreds of civilians in Kabul in the early 1990s, according to the Human Rights groups.
Disqualifying the candidates charged with involvement in security issues, coordinated crimes, drug smuggling and misuse of public and private assets and other illegal acts is one of the basic authorities of the of Afghan IECC. The IEC shall ensure putting all the necessary mechanisms and tools to ensure transparency of the Wolsi Jirga and District council, in order to restore the legitimacy of the Afghan electoral system that has been damaged seriously with electoral frauds in the past elections. Doing so, the international community, Afghan political parties, Afghan civil society and the public masses shall support the IECC decision and participate actively in the election process to make the coming election a success. The decision of IECC to disqualify some of the candidates shall be a turning point in the Afghan electoral process and signify that warlords are seen as a losing ticket in Afghan election and Afghanistan will not further allow the warlords to keep the Afghan people as their hostages, misuse their resources and undermine our democracy by using such negative manners in the country.