Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

Controversy in Election Commissions

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Controversy in Election Commissions

To view Afghanistan’s security crisis as a critical issue before the Afghans’ collective life, the challenges of elections which manifested itself in a strong way will emerge in upcoming election once more. If the government does not manage election process and commissions in a right way, there is a possibility either the election will not be conducted or will be held with strong controversy. In this case, the elements of country’s political system will be harmed and mending this will be ambiguous.
Within the past days, a controversy in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) emerged. Afghan President dismissed head of IEC’s secretariat and the head of IECC dismissed five key members of his staff. The process of electoral reform has been extremely slow and difficult since the public lost their trust in commissions, there was no enough sense of trust between ruling political factions within the government’s body, and there were also a myriad of legal and technical challenges. In any case, this period elapsed quietly within the two past years – as the National Unity Government (NUG) was established.
After the establishment of electoral reforms that was stipulated in both electoral law and executive structures of the commissions, the commission should have paved the path for holding election. The significant issues that commission were supposed to do are: providing the list of voters, determining nationwide polling stations, providing financial expenses of elections, and reforming the administrative field of commission across the country.
After a year, electoral commissions are unlikely to have achieved their single objectives. Since the appointment of commission members, not only have none of the above objectives been fully developed, but they have also been engaged in bitter ethnic and factional controversies. In the past, if these controversies were done behind the political smoke screen, it was not secret within the past year as members of electoral commissions exchanged harsh rhetoric against one another. After a year, a destructive turbulence has emerged in electoral commissions and the smoke of this flame will go into the eyes of both state and nation. Government also seems exhausted from this issue. Hence, the heads of the NUG should manage the issue within the commissions.
Basically, there are manifold challenges in political and technical fields which seem to be the main reason behind the slowdown of electoral commission’s tasks. Members of electoral commissions could not only fail to attract the national and international trust, but also lost the government’s trust.
No pressure is placed on electoral commissions by political leaders or leadership members of the government. The individuals were agreed upon by heads of NUG from the beginning. But the political and fundamental problems in all Afghan agencies and institutions are the structural challenges rising from the discriminatory and monopolistic policies of the past. When political problem is discussed, it means that the past narrow-minded ethnic and factional structures have infected the minds of the public, including the country’s managers and politicians. Election commissioners are not exception, either. In the past year, their conflicts, which had political roots, were revealed to the masses. The attitudes of some members of commission also rooted in the past and they acts more like the representatives of a certain group rather than senior managers with having the political fate of the country in their hands. There are lurid pieces of reports about the deeds of some members of commissions that will be revealed in the future. Such practices have led to the disappointment of the masses and government. Based on political independence, commissions have no problem.
Those who were appointed in a transparent process under the supervision of representatives from the Wolesi Jirga, Meshrano Jirga, Supreme Court, AIHRC, civil society organizations, and women’s organizations, can proceed with electoral process in accordance with country’s laws and electoral law. However, the contingency mental structures of new commissioners had impeded a prolific and reliable task up to now.
There are many challenges in the technical field of electoral commissions. That is to say, if there were legal and political problems in the beginning of electoral reform, now technical problems have emerged stronger.
Since the elections of Wolesi Jirga and district councils in the next year are a fundamental need for the legitimacy of country’s political system and since the opportunity to build different electoral mechanisms, as well as the fundamental changes in the law and the current commissions, is not possible, urgent or temporary solutions should be considered to maintain the administrative order and stability of the electoral commissions. The most significant issues that will support the government in the upcoming election are as following:
(1) Establishing a temporary supervising commission: Based on article 64 and item 20 of Afghan Commission, president has the authority of establishing commissions to improve administration of the country in accordance with the provisions of law. Hence, a commission comprised of relevant institutions, mainly those institutions that have the authority of supervising the process of appointing commissioners, should be established. (2) Dismissal of employees who have committed violations and corruption. If monitoring board carries out a thorough examination of commissions’ work, or if there are grounds for violations and corruption of members or staff of electoral commissions, dismissing them is an appropriate solution in the current situation.

Muhammad Hedayat is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlookafghanistan. He can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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