Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Parliamentary Election Observers’ Report

The parliamentary election in Afghanistan took place on 20th and 21st October 2018, with serious security concerns as just before the election, the Kandahar attack took place that took the life of Kandahar police chief, Gen. Raziq, the most powerful figure in the province along with the provincial intelligence chief. The incident made the National Unity Government (NUG) and Independent Election Commission (IEC) postpone the election in Kandahar for a week.
In addition to that attack, ten other attacks took place on different candidates and political rallies, some of them resulting in the death of many innocent lives. Even on the day of election, several attacks were carried out by Taliban militants as they had boycotted election and had already warned Afghans to stay away from election centers. Nevertheless, the election took place and now people wait for the results, but there are still many questions about the transparency of the overall process and its fruitful results.
Even before the parliamentary election were held, there were serious concerns about it. The digital registration of the voters could not take place as the idea of electronic ID cards could not be put to practice because of differences within NUG itself. Moreover, serious questions were raised about the independency of IEC as well, since its members and key position holders were frequently changed by President Ashraf Ghani. Moreover, the biometric system could not be implemented properly due to limitation of time. Even after the election day, various complaints were raised by people in different parts of the country. Even in capital Kabul it could be implemented with all its attributes and potentials. Some even questioned the determination of IEC to implement the system properly.
The election observers, about 11,400 in number, were deployed in 33 provinces by a group of civil society organizations including: Training Human Rights Association for Afghan Women( THRA), Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Election and Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA), Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo), and Afghanistan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation( AABRAR) to observe the candidates’ campaign activities, and voting and counting processes on the election days also observed the following: lack of coordination and poor management in controlling the polling centers by IEC that caused late opening in many polling centers; problems caused by the voter lists including lack of the lists in a notable number of centers, sending lists to wrong polling stations, missing some of the names started with certain letters such as k, g, a and so on in the lists; the problems caused by biometric devices due to inadequate training and lack of familiarity of the Commission staff with the correct use of these devices, their failure and the lack of effective technical support to quickly resolve the issues; violation of the Election Law in the extension of election for the second day; misconduct and violation of electoral law and regulations by some representatives of parties and candidates such as electoral campaigns and forcing and bribing the voters to vote in their favor.
These concerns raised by elections observers are very serious, and there must be measures to control them so that better steps can be taken in future. If these concerns are not dealt with proper attention and determination, it is very difficult to expect that something will change in the presidential election that is even more important for the future stability of the political situation in the country.
The election observers, in their report on Monday, suggested that it is necessary for IEC to respect the law, regulations and procedures for making important decisions such as the extension of the election for the second day and considering the opinions of all stakeholders in such cases; pay attention to professional training of IEC staff and their fundamental role in voting process and preventing waste of time; establish an effective communication system between observers, monitors and IEC staff at different levels; learn from lessons of implementing voter lists and biometric in the future election and on-time announcement of the primary and final results.
Nevertheless, there are some imperative points that were neglected by the observers since their duties were limited to the election day. The need of the time is to properly pave the way for a biometric system, which requires issuing electronic ID cards to the people and change the electoral system so that the way to a truly democratic election could be followed. At the same time, there should be efforts to make IEC totally independent so that it is able to perform its responsibilities without the interference of the government and government authorities. At the same time, the people must also make sure that they raise their voices for their democratic rights and have a vigilant role throughout the process. They need to cast their votes based on the political and social services and roles of the candidates, not on their wealth and family connections.