Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Controversy over Delay in Announcing Kabul Election Results

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Controversy over Delay in Announcing  Kabul Election Results

On Saturday, dozens of protesting candidates and their supporters launched a protest near the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of the Parliament, preventing the new lawmakers to enter the house, where they were expected to elect the administrative board and the speaker. They emphasized that they would not allow the Wolesi Jirga’s internal election to be held until the announcement of final results of the Kabul election. The protesting candidates also said they have succeeded to win a seat in the parliament from Kabul based on the preliminary results announced on October 20 but according to the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, the results have been rejected and are under assessment by the commissions.
They stressed any decisions in the absence of Kabul representatives is neither acceptable nor legal. Shinkai Karokhail a protesting candidate from Kabul said that the parliament should not launch its sessions or election of administrative board in the absence of Kabul representatives. “The result of Kabul elections must be announced as soon as possible and the election of the administrative board should be suspended,” Karokhail said as quoted. “We are calling on the President, the Chief Executive, and both electoral bodies to announce the final result of Kabul parliamentary elections,” said Hafizullah Jalili, a protesting candidate from Kabul.  “It will be a violation of the law if the administrative board is elected by 217 lawmakers in absence of 33 legislators from Kabul,” as quoted said Zuhra Nawrozi, another protesting candidate from Kabul.
In response to these, the Officials from the election commissions said the assessment of the Kabul votes is underway and that it will be finalized in the near future. They also said that the result it was supposed to be announced on Friday but it was delayed due to some technical problems. “I cannot say an exact time but we hope that we will finish it by tomorrow” said Mohammad Hanif Danishyar, member of the Independent Election Commission. Recently, IECC had said that 20 percent result sheets of Kabul parliamentary elections were missing and the electoral commissions were unable to find a solution to the problem. So far, the electoral complaints commission has assessed 80 percent of Kabul votes which were included in 2,500 result sheets.  More than four million people voted in parliamentary elections in the country on October 20 2018. At least one-quarter of the votes is belonged to Kabul.
Given the performance of previous commissions and repeated procrastination of current commissions, it seems that the candidates and people objection is righteous because, at least, seven months has passed from the election but the results of Kabul have not yet been announced. This delay is not justifiable soon as possible the Kabul election results should be announced so that the parliament, which has lasted about four years illegally, has to be completed upon completion of its members. Although the parliament has recently been reopened with the presence of new representatives, its members are still incomplete because of Kabul representatives.  if we add the representatives of Ghazni province to the number of Kabul representatives, this defect will be deeper and larger. On the other hand, the new parliament was inaugurated on April 16, but so far the lawmakers have held only one session which turned controversial due to the absence of Kabul MPs.
In many provinces, the votes were overtly increased or decreased and it is somewhat clear but the electoral commissions did not have a clear answer to the protesters. During the past months, several protests were ongoing in different provinces which no one adequately address their problems. The protesters released variety of evidences through National T.Vs and social media networks which showed clear fraud. Comparison of these documents with information provided by the election commission on the website of the commission indicates that there is a clear discrepancy between the documents provided and the information available on the website of the Commission. Unfortunately, neither these commissions and nor the former Commissioners have properly investigated the issues. One week ago we witnessed an angry protest in Baghlan province, and the protests are continuing in some cities, including Kabul.
The electoral commissions should try to hear these complaints and provide logical responses to the issues; otherwise, it will leave negative impact on the future elections. We will soon have presidential elections, provincial council elections, district councils and parliamentary elections in Ghazni province. If the electoral commissions cannot answer to the questions and doubts, these doubts will undoubtedly transit to the next elections, and then no one will be able to restore the credibility of election process in the country.  Given the critical stage that our electoral commissions are facing, some of the programs need to be carefully engineered and aligned with public opinion and will of the people. Or else, in addition to creating distrust on election process in the country, the current members of the commission may experience very bitter experience than previous members of these commissions.
Unfortunately, our electoral commissions have received bad legacy and experience from the past that have never gained public satisfaction. During the past eighteen years of the election, elections have increasingly been ambiguous and doubtful, and their results have always been accepted in a series of doubts. All these bitter legacies make the election commissions carry heavy burdens and challenges. The only element that can reduce this burden is ensuring transparency and fairness of elections. This is the greatest demand of people, and this demand is possible when members of the electoral commissions keep distance from political pressures and political faction.

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

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