KABUL - Afghan civil society activists and lawmakers met on Thursday to discuss the demand of the country's political parties for major amendments to the election law.
The civil society activities warned that the proposed principals set forward by the parties are essential for a fair election in 2014, as lawmakers urged the government to send the draft election law for approval as soon as possible.
"The draft prepared by the Ministry of Justice is a pro-government law under which the government has the authority to suspend the election. If this law is enforced, it paves the way for a political coup in the country," head of the Afghanistan Civil Society Association Azizullah Rafiee said at the Thursday meeting.
The lawmakers present also believe that the current draft of the election law is too government-dominating which if approved by the parliament could lead to questions over the fairness and transparency of an election.
"The logical demands of the political parties and the civil society activists should be considered and the amendments should be started immediately but as the government does not intend to launch a transparent and fair election, it refuses to announce the exact date of the election and begin making the amendments," Badakhashan MP Fauzia Kofi said.
Afghan senator Ali Akbar Jamshidi said the role of political parties in the process of the election is vital and that their involvement in formulating the election law should be increased.
"The civil society activists and political parties can help the government to create a good election law. Involvement of political parties in the election process is vital – the government has only considered 30 percent of the demands of the political parties whereas their role should be 50 percent," Jamshidi said.
Others warned that the current law draft is a complex one with potentially tribal divisions.
"The government-prepared law has not been sent to the parliament so far – it's at the Council of Ministers Laws Committee. It's a complex law which could inflame racism and tribal conflicts in the country. It's better to ignore those [aspects]," Kabul MP Sayed Hussian Alemi Balkhi said.
Daniel Murphy, Chief of Party for Democracy International in Afghanistan which organized the meeting, stressed the role of Afghans in the election process and that there would not be foreign interference.
"I was not necessarily taking a position on what the electoral law should be or how it should be changed. Rather, we see our role as encouraging the dialogue between the different stakeholders so that this can be an Afghan process and the vast majority of Afghans can accept the process as more credible," Murphy told TOLOnews.
Meanwhile, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) deputy director Farid Khalid criticized the low presence of women at the Thursday meeting.
"The presence of government representatives and women were less visible in this meeting," Khalid told TOLOnews.
TEFA was established in 2009 to monitor the transparency of election in the country.
The upcoming presidential election is expected to be held in early 2014 despite the security and financial challenges ahead. (Tolo News)