Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

How to Address Mistrust to Afghan Electoral Commissions

The democratic transition that started in Afghanistan in 2001 has made significant progress. Arguably, a major landmark in the Afghan democratic experiment was the successful transfer in 2014.
Nonetheless, Afghanistan has its own share of the tensions and conflicts associated with elections. For example, Disputes over the results of the 2014 Presidential elections and 2018 parliamentary elections signaled that some aspects of Afghan electoral system are susceptible to contestation. Indeed, the Afghan nascent democracy still exhibits certain tendencies that suggest a need for improvement.
Pre-election worry
The upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for 20 July, will be the fourth since Afghan’s
transition from Taliabn  rule in 2001. A total of 18 persons have been verified by AIEC in running for the presidency. These candidates have purposed formation of a takeover government to replace the Afghan National Unity government. In addition, the country is threatened by 20 terrorist groups and is witnessing every now and then deadly terrorist attacks in the big cities including the Kabul. The country also has witnessed several troubling events and trends, including violent speeches by candidates and their supporters, rising levels of citizen dissatisfaction and frustration, and the demonstrable predisposition of certain youth groups to resort to violence. All these developments have far-reaching consequences for the course and outcome of the upcoming presidential elections.
By all accounts, the elections will be keenly contested.  Also, no sitting Afghan president has lost an election. Considering past and present trends, there are concerns in some circles that the contest between Ghani and other Main candidates may not produce a clear winner in the first round of the elections. On the other hand, there is the possibility that the elections will take a surprising twist. All these trends have contributed toward heightening pre-election anxiety in Afghanistan.
Disappointment in the NUG
The outcomes of the 2014 presidential elections, including the legal battle over the results,
raised the stakes for future elections in Afghan. Not unexpectedly, based on the lessons of the 2014 elections, politicians and their supporters are strategizing and working with some novel scenarios in the current electoral environment.
In Afghanistan, more than in previous elections, there are deep concerns about issues of governance, service delivery, accountability and peace process. A majority of Afghans are also worried about the unimpressive performance of the national economy, unemployment and increasing internal insecurity including rise of ISIS and its growing presence in different parts of the country including in the North of Afghanistan. The government is not seen as having done well in the management of the economy, in spite of the country’s initiation of road and air corridors and Chabahar port, TAPI, BRI and lapis lazuli Corridor. Furtehr,the value of afghani has decreased nearly 50 percent within the last four years. 
Also, there is a perception of a high incidence of corruption. The scandals surrounding governmental projects in the military and public service institutions exemplify this unwholesome trend. 
Mistrust of the Electoral Commissions
EC has a mandate to conduct free and fair elections in Afghanistan. Citizens’ perception of the EC as an objective and independent body seems to be eroding fast. Its weak performance to announce the parliamentary elections results has further disappointed the citizens. The AIEC’s decisions have generated continuing organized reactions by disqualified candidates, and their supporters.
Afghan presidential elections is one of the crucial political events that the AIEC must  ensure it will be conducted as fair and free in July 20. It is important for the Afghan government and election observers and stakeholders in the national and international community to be aware of and address the risk factors including maintaining security of the voting centers, sufficient provision of the ballets, timely opening of the voting centers, timely announcement of the results, and adequate addressing of the grievances. The success of the June elections is the responsibility of all the stakeholders especially the candidates, parties, civil society groups, police and security and development partners. Thus, there should be regular interactions among these stakeholders to enable periodic analysis of the electoral environment as well as prompt attention to issues that might have far-reaching adverse consequences for the upcoming Afghanistan presidential elections.