Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Threats Hinder Review of Polling Centers in 32 Districts

Threats Hinder Review of Polling Centers in 32 Districts

KABUL – IEC has called on security institutions and tribal elders to help them access polling stations in insecure areas. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday said that it plans to start the assessment of polling stations in insecure regions of the country within ten days.
The election commission also called on the security institutions and tribal elders in areas under threat to cooperate with the election commission.
But, election monitoring groups say that it would be a difficult task for the election commission to undertake assessments of polling stations in insecure regions of the country.
“The first issue is that the Taliban are keeping control on the villages, if the Taliban allow people, they can participate, but if the Taliban do not allow, people can't take part in the elections; secondly members of local police and illegal armed groups are operating there, so they want to keep control over the elections,” said Assadullah Walwaji, former head of IEC in the northeastern zone.
“It is impossible to go into the insecure regions, because it would have advertising aspect for the election commission and it is not practical, we do not believe that the elections can be held nationwide in light of ongoing circumstances,” said Naeem Ayoubzada, chairman of the Transparent Election Forum of Afghanistan (TEFA).
The assessment of 90 percent of polling stations across the country have been completed, but IEC staff have not managed to review polling stations in areas under threat, said IEC spokesman Abdul Badi Sayyad.
According to Sayyad, tribal elders in these districts are now engaging in negotiations with armed opponents to let IEC staff work in the districts under the control of militants.
“We are in contact with the security institutions to pave the way for our staff to assess the polling centers, we are also in touch with the tribal elders in certain regions to convince the armed opponents to let our staff enter these areas for assessment of polling stations,” said Sayyad.
The election commission has said that there is a need for more polling centers to be established in the country for holding free and transparent elections. But the election monitoring groups say that security threats, lack of capacity within the election commission, lack of public trust in the election commission, possible meddling of powerful elements in the elections, and lack of public awareness about elections could undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the elections in the country. (Tolonews)