Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Electoral Complaint Commission Needs multipronged strategy to ensure transparent, credible elections

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Electoral Complaint Commission Needs multipronged  strategy to ensure transparent, credible elections

Now election for the Parliament and District councils is on its verge. It is a matter of few months and the election will be the reality. There are around 9 million voters registered so far, with almost 3 million women voters. International community has expressed its full confidence in the election mechanism. UNAMA has called on Afghan parties to support the election process as it constitutes one of the fundamental aspirations of the people of Afghanistan. SRSG of UNAMA Yamamoto Tadamichi says as quoted in media, that, ‘It is very easy to be skeptical, but I think we should take this very seriously. ...We should respect this desire of Afghan people’. On the same day, UN Security Council called on all the stakeholders to do everything to create the conditions for credible and transparent elections.
International community has expressed full faith in the demonstrative capabilities and competencies of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) to steer the election process with appropriate responses to constructive criticism and donors pledged to fund an additional to $57 million to the election budget in its 3rd project board meeting. International community is supporting Afghanistan with high expectations, as credible and transparent election will have the trust of Afghans in democracy and Afghan institutions, which will lead to all inclusive peace, security and development.
At the same time, the country is also gearing for the election process and the political landscape is taking shape. Its dynamics are changing. Alliances are broken, new alliances are formed and this process of ‘breaking and forming’ will continue even after election. First Vice President Dostum is back to the country and he was welcome at the Airport by the Second Vice President and National Security Advisor. With his returns, the demonstrations in north provinces got dissipated and another new alliance, National Salvation Alliance, started taking momentum with its first open meeting on 26 July 2018 attended by him, Atta Mohammad Noor and Mohaqiq. Alliance also announced that they aimed to work for, inter alia, holding of transparent election. 
Everyone has been giving a call for the transparency and credibility of the process, be it the UN, the government, political parties and the people of Afghanistan. Independent Election Commission is entrusted to ensure it. Integrity of the election process with inclusivity, quick remedial mechanisms, prompt investigation and decisions will surely contribute towards the realization of the above call. My views published in Daily Outlook Afghanistan under opinion ( http://outlookafghanistan.net/topics.php?post_id=21114) , which sought to set up a strong functional mechanism of Electoral Complaints Commission to address every complaint quickly and efficiently and taking measures under the Election Laws and Afghan Penal Code.
Now, Independent Electoral Complaints Commission started functioning but little bit delayed and it is being extended to provinces. On 25 July 2018, IECC informed that 883 complaints have been received and out of these 200 are under evaluation. Nearly 40 complaints have already been decided upon.Political leaders including Hekmatyar and Atta Mohammad Noor have expressed the existence of millions of fake voters, estimating to be in the range of 4-5 millions. Many complaints of irregularities were reported during the registration process.
Now, the IECC is concentrating on the complaints against the candidates as that matter is on priority. The process of vetting should continue with objective criterion and inbuilt appellate mechanisms following the natural principles of justice. This process will facilitate to filter the tainted candidates and uphold the expectations of people to know their candidates better. Same time, previous complaints raised during the voter registration which are election related should be pursued to bring them to logical conclusions leading to affixing responsibilities and finding ways to prevent their further adverse implications.
IECC may be strengthened more with appropriate resources and expertise creating it as the focal point of the multi-pronged strategy for prompt fact findings and investigations of each election related complaint including through third party sources such as news media. Only after such mechanisms, IECC can demonstrate itself a strong, independent, competent and capable institution. Efforts are to be made to address the issues so that such claims are investigated quickly and findings are made public, which will remove skepticism. IECC should be in position to admonish the political parties or even discipline them, who are trying to vitiate the electoral environment, if facts are found to be contrary.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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