Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Ghani’s Assurance over Polls Next Year Sparks Backlash

Ghani’s Assurance over Polls  Next Year Sparks Backlash

KABUL - The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday reported that President Ashraf Ghani has assured donors that parliamentary elections will be held next year, something election observers and monitoring groups believe is not possible. 
The election commission has drafted a proposal about elections and will soon share it with government in order to confirm the timeframe for parliamentary elections, said IEC spokesman Gula Jan Abdul Badi Sayyad.
Observers and election monitoring institutions have responded to Ghani’s assurances with dismay, saying that it would be impossible for the IEC to conduct the poll next year due to technical issues and a slow “working pace”. 
“We have dispatched our recommendations to government and they will decide on it and will pick one of the proposals – either on the single-seat constituency system or (they will) make electoral districts a bit smaller or (they will) go with previous electoral districts where provincial borders were the electoral zones; then we will be able to announce the timeline of elections,” said Sayyad.
Election watchdogs say that the first step the IEC needs to finalize is the voter lists, which have a significant impact on the transparency and fairness of the elections. However the IEC so far has not been able to finalize these lists.
“Changing the electoral zones, replacing the voter lists, voting cards and maintaining financial and technical resources are among the key elements which need to be considered,” said Shah Mahmoud Mal, member of Election Watch Afghanistan (EWA).
“One of the biggest problems is that until now we don’t have the voters list and there is no census,” said Jandad Spinghar, head of Afghan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN).
The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan is often seen as one of the key challenges that could undermine the participation of the Afghan public at the polls.
“The election is one of the key principles of our democracy and we have public support for it,” said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI).

Ghani’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah has however said that in the absence of the electronic national identity card (e-NIC) system, it would be impossible to ensure the credibility and transparency of elections. But government so far has failed to announce a date to start the process.  (Tolonews)