Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Afghanistan on the Eve of Presidential Campaign: Worries and Advancements

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Afghanistan on the Eve of Presidential  Campaign: Worries and Advancements

The good news is that Afghan government become able to provide almost the entire presidential election budget from its own pocket. Recently, president Ghani said “I have allocated seven billion AFN, which is money of Afghan people, for the cost of great historic event, means election and determination about future destiny of the country and this is the first time that we will spend the election cost from nation pocket.”The president emphasized, “In our political literature, we have two terms embodying forever, republican and citizen. No one can take umbrellas from our republicanism and rights based on citizenship. These are the values that young people and our passionate women are proudly defending it, and there will be no compromise about these two principles. “He added Afghanistan has no fundamental contention with any nation; the factual dispute is over the location that slowly turning into a beneficial crossroads of the region.
Meanwhile, there are also worries and concerns which relate to the transparency and foreign interference. Given the last two elections in 2014 and 2018 people are extremely concerned about election transparency and ability of Independent Election Commission (IEC). As already mentioned, the next concern pertains to foreign interferences in the presidential election. This concern has intensified when IEC announced the ceiling of expenses for election campaign about 442 million Afghanis for each candidate. Comparing to the previous presidential election and the election of 2014 which was limited to around 10 million Afghanis for each candidate, but it has increased about 400 percent. Although the IEC officials did not explain the reasons for the dramatic increased in cost of campaign spending, the head of the Electoral Complaints Commission spokesman, Qassem Elyasy, said to media: “ we had a meeting in previous days with the election commissioners, they argued the decided cost is reasonable because the whole country is determined as single polling constituency and it requires more campaign and expenses.”
Regarding this, the secretary of the Electoral Complaints Commission added that the election commission officials did not consult with the Electoral Complaints Commission on setting the ceiling for election expenses. According to him, it was necessary to discuss the matter with the Joint Committee on this matter, and the officials of both Commissions should have discussed and explained the reasons earlier. Yousuf Rashid, the Executive Director of FIFA, also confirmed the permitted amount for the campaign, saying that when he asked the Electoral Commission about the reason for the increased cost of the campaign, the election commission officials justified because of the increased number of voters.
However, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has issued a bill to curb unscrupulous spending by candidates. According to the bill, the candidates’ financial resources must be specific and they must create a bank account in order to verify the source and amount of money they spend. According to the electoral campaign bill, presidential candidates should pay their campaign costs through legitimate and domestic sources. The money which spent on election campaigns should be legal and its taxes must have been paid to the government. The bill also prohibits use of public property during the campaign, unless the competent authority provides the same facilities to all candidates in a constituency. In this regard, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also emphasized on impartiality of government officials and staffs during the electoral campaign days. Beside this, children exploitation has been prohibited by the ministry of education.
According to Habibul Rahman Nang, the IEC secretariat chairman, the registration process of movable and immovable assets of candidates are under process and will be completed shortly. He added this program was of important part of the commission’s efforts to monitor and control the cost of campaigning for candidates. Accordingly, along with legal guidelines, the candidates cannot use illegal money and outside aid in their election campaigns. Article 6 of the electoral campaign bill states: “candidates, political parties and political coalition cannot accept or receive any financial and non-financial assistance from foreign nationals or political authorities of other countries.”
In accordance with the bills and electoral procedures, the presidential candidates must submit monthly reports on their assistance and expenditures they receive from any third person. According to article 7 of the internal procedure of election, the candidates are required to submit two monthly reports during the electoral campaign.  The first report must be submitted to the commission at the 30th to 35th of the campaign day, and the second report should be submitted to the commission in the silent period (48 hours before the Election Day). The bill also advises the candidates and their supporters not interfere in other candidates’ affairs or destroy the promotional materials of other candidates, or create obstacles. Using the signs of electoral commissions or signs of government departments are prohibited in election campaigns. Installing, typing or drawing promotional materials in government offices has also been banned.
The last concern which is raised on the eve of the presidential election campaign is about littering the cities by spread and installation of too many papers and posters. Therefore, all candidates and their supporters are suggested to use banners, billboards, and electric ways to preserve cleanliness and beauty of cities. Otherwise, according to the campaign bill it is the job of municipal employees to remove the advertising posters. In the past presidential and parliamentary elections, complaints about irresponsible behavior of candidates’ supporters, the destruction of public places or the use of residential houses were reported, and the officials from the IEC say they will follow similar procedure during and before the election campaigns. The Municipality of Kabul has also announced on its Face-book page that it has called on the election commission officials to “meet the requirements of the candidates for election campaigning in the run-up to the presidential campaign.”

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

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