Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 15th, 2018

Strong Parliament Needs Strong Candidates

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Strong Parliament Needs Strong Candidates

Being on the verge of parliamentary and district council’s elections, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has started to register candidates for the long-delayed and disputed elections. In first day, IEC has registered about 500 names to contest for the legislative polls. It seems that every one including the jobless, teachers, businessmen, war-lords, and etc… have nominated themselves for sake of reaching personal agenda. Unfortunately, there is no modern mechanism to filter those who are not qualified to be successful parliamentarian while it is not logical to expect strong parliament by electing weak people.
According to the current election law, any Afghan citizen, who is 25 or over, can register his name and contest the legislative polls.  The only required criteria is to provide 1,000 ID cards of voters at the time of registration while education plays no role in their candidacy status. Lack of educational criteria, will not only cause unsound competition, but also cultivate poor political culture and finally weak parliament. Some of the candidates, instead of talking about educational background, political experiences, legal rules, plans and etc.., are trying to attract people’s votes by offering a meal or money. These prove that the current election law is fully obsolete and extremely needs update and reform.
Legally, all eligible people can nominate themselves or vote. Nobody can prevent a person from such citizenship right.  The field is open for all but one needs political and intellectual capacity to win but the powerful and the rich are more probable to win in the context of Afghanistan. On the other hand, the candidates’ figure is astronomical, making it hard for some to recognize the candidates or created hesitancy for voting. For this reason, the only suitable option to introduce competent nominee is cultural activity and continuous awareness based on an academic and specific strategy. In other words, awareness can segregate the best from bad but it has become so complicated due to high number of nominees; it means, the weak candidates can trouble the water to misuse from the poverty of people.
However, the candidates have access to social networks. They publish their pictures, slogans, everyday programs and subsequent strategies. Many young voters have even expressed their stance and directly encourage others to cooperate with their particular candidate. In fact, seeking fame under the pretext of parliamentary and district elections is a hot issue. Some practically started their activities. They go among the people, asking their problems and make their calculation. Some are holding cultural, social and academic meetings. Some are trying to write for a printing press or to talk on the visual press. Everything is a sign of representation; representation among the people for fame and to obtain votes in the near future. Communication networks, brochures, and scientific parties are good areas for candidates to pose themselves. Those candidates should be supported that deserve such valuable responsibility; otherwise, we will have the same scandalous parliament.
The other paralyzing issue is insecurity; From one hand, it deters people from registering, voting and doing campaign which is useful for promotion of democratic culture. On the other hand, insecurity is the main deterrent to government’s ability to hold inclusive election in the country. As report shows, more than 1,000 voter registration centers stayed closed for insecurity reasons. While tens of opened registration centers have already been attacked. Last month on one of those centers in the capital left 60 people killed in the west of Kabul while smaller string of incidents continued in different parts of the country.
Overall most of the people have lost their confidence over election process due to unfavorable election management and wide spread fraud carried out in last presidential election. While still it continues in one way or other way. In addition, they are facing with a series of hurdles including technical problems, worries over lack of participation and major security concerns.Within nearly two months, only some 3.2 million people have registered to vote so far which is well short of the potential electorate of 14 million. In fact, this election is viewed as a prelude to Afghanistan’s 2019 presidential vote. If IEC fails to revive the confidence, and thus the government fails to ensure the security then the democratic process would be severely damaged in Afghanistan. While militants have even warned civilians that they should stay away from key government-run positions, including polling stations.
However, the IEC official stress that they will remain neutral during the elections and urged the government to support the commission as a partner. The Independent Election Commission Chief also emphasize that no one will be permitted to commit fraud in the elections. In regards to the security of the elections and voting centers, IEC officials inform of close coordination with the security institutions to ensure security of the voters during the elections day. The parliamentary and district councils elections are due to be organized on 20th October this year. In terms of insecurity in some districts, IEC officials say that the commission was in contact with the security agencies over the problem. He offered that people can go to secure areas in their immediate neighbourhood to vote. On IEC office in Ghazni which remains closed for a month, head of IEC informed that commissioners would soon visit the province to resolve the problem. The closure was forced by protesters who demanded smaller constituencies.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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