Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Election Should Carry the True Spirit of Democracy

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Election Should Carry the True Spirit of Democracy

With only few weeks left for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections, the mistrust resurfaced between state and nation leading to the closure of the Independent Election Commission offices in Balkh, Herat and Kandahar provinces last week. 
Backed by political parties, a number of protestors have reportedly closed the door of IEC offices in the three provinces and political parties, operating under the “Grand National Coalition”, have warned to close the IEC offices in more provinces if their demands for a transparent election and change of polling system are not met.
The political parties also levelled serious accusations on government leaders over what they described it deliberate attempts to deprive the people from the right to be informed about all aspects of free and credible elections.
However, Akhtar Muhammad Ibrahimi, deputy interior minister, has said that the government will “use force if necessary” to control the situation.
The protest and closing the IEC offices indicate two bitter facts. For one, there is a trust deficit between nation and state. That is to say, the public do not believe in the transparency of the upcoming elections, which, according to them, do not demonstrate democracy. Following the 2014 presidential election, the government did not only fail to win the public trust but the wall of mistrust between nation and state grew taller. Worst, the government could not implement democratic principles in the country despite conducting election. Secondly, the recent event shows the growing mistrust between officials within the government machinery as well as those who were removed from the government’s body. The Grand National Coalition is a strong political competitor of the president Ghani’s team, especially in the next presidential election. This team, which includes high-ranking political figures, is seeking to monitor the government from now.
Since political parties and activities are in accordance with national laws, the government is not supposed to show any sensitivity against them. Earlier, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, said that the IEC kills the time regarding the usage of biometric system for voting and the heads of National Unity Government seek to sidestep this issue. According to Hekmatyar, six million refugees, two millions internally displaced people and about four million of people living in insecure areas are intentionally deprived of voting. He added that there was also political motive for the cancellation of district council election. He claimed the government deprived its political opponents from deciding about the election and warned of huge rigging in the coming election.
It is believed that illegal closing of the IEC offices is unreasonable and violation of law rather than being considered civil disobedience. Political parties could boycott the election through urging their followers not to participate, conducting comprehensive demonstrations or any other way except for illegal closing of the offices.
On the other hand, the government must be highly cautious not to resort to violence for reopening the IEC offices. It should be noted that political heavyweights are behind the protestors and they have strong public support with them. Cracking down the demonstrators and political proponents will make a big fire that would be hard to extinguish.
The government cannot simply ignore the public demands since they are legal and logical. Why the legal demands of citizens are not met? If it is not possible due to the time limit, the government should persuade the citizens and political parties through logic and reason rather than using force.
It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the election’s transparency and conduct free, fair and just election in accordance with Constitution and other national laws. If elections are not held in a “free, general, secret, as well as direct” way, or if citizens are deprived of casting their votes for one reason or another, it will be violation of national laws, which is in conflict with democracy.
Since election is a significant step towards democracy, democratic principles and national laws should be exercised by both state and nation. In such a case, it is understandable that all violent move will deal a blow to democracy.
By and large, bridging the gap between state and nation as well as between political officials in such a sensitive moment is highly recommended. Both political parties and state must prefer national interests to all other issues and pave the ground for a transparent, fair, free, and general election so that all could exercise their suffrage with peace of mind. It is to put the differences aside and focus on ensuring security for election and providing a safe environment for citizens to cast their votes.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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