Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

The Fourth Step of Democracy in Afghanistan


The Fourth Step of Democracy in Afghanistan

Today is the second day of electoral campaign and start of debates to run for the fourth presidential election in Afghanistan. Since 2001, there have been three presidential elections and this one will be fourth election which is going to take place after another 60 days. In fact, it is the fourth step towards sustainability of democracy in the country. All previous elections were very important but the 2019 presidential election seems to be more important because Afghanistan lies on a crossing road of democratic system and so-called Islamic Emirate system. Failure and success of this election is considered as death or life for the nascent democracy of Afghanistan. Therefore, the presidential election is a historic opportunity and everyone has to do his best to make it successful.
We had a lot issues and challenges in past elections but they played essential role in consolidating political system and democracy in the country. Regardless of its quality, merely holding elections and paying importance to votes of people are constructive. Now, the fourth presidential election is more sensitive and more important than any other election in the past. Today, we put the first step towards the fourth round of presidential elections while enemy of democracy has revived more than ever. Taliban extremists group and other terrorists groups activated more than ever. They are overtly opposed to any political system which is based on people’s votes.
Meanwhile, there are other factors such as peace process, withdrawal of foreign troops and farther intensification of the war during election are considered as serious threats to the Afghan political system and election process. For this reason, the fourth presidential election of 2019 considered a historic step to overcome the current crisis. If this step is failed under any pretext, Afghanistan will probably once again face another historic break and democracy will fail in its history. On other side, if the upcoming presidential election successfully passes this milestone, then no power will be able to prevent the progression and institutionalization of democracy in the country.
Out of above mentioned factors, the security issue seems to be more objective barrier in barring implementation of upcoming election and election campaign in the country. In addition to preventing the inclusiveness of campaigns from different parts of the country, it will prevent the participation of people in insecure areas that are involved in war during the election. A number of presidential candidates and election tickets say it is not possible to hold election campaigns gatherings in all provinces of the country due to increasing insecurities. Although the country’s defense and security organs have informed of maintaining security, there concern is over maintaining of better security during the elections campaigns. They believe that the country’s security organs should maintain security of voting centers as well as highways.
According to government security officials and Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) officials, there is no problem in starting the electoral campaign and holding election on the specified day. The government has provided each candidate with bullet-proof vehicles and security guards to ensure their security during the campaign period. Meanwhile, the electoral teams have already prepared facilities required for election campaign process. According a report, most of the central and provincial offices of these candidates were ready and even indirectly started campaign and team building but hereafter their campaigns will intensify through those offices.
Thus, the ministry of interior has informed of a comprehensive security plan which covers security of all election campaign ceremonies. “When election campaigns get started, security of presidential candidates and their election campaign ceremonies will be maintained in accordance to a particular security plan,” said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesperson to the ministry of interior. He added that extra police forces would be deployed in areas for maintaining security of presidential election campaigns.
Anyway, other concern which is repeatedly expressed is the matter of unsound campaigns which rose by raising ceiling of campaign expenses for each candidate. The experience of past elections shows that candidates will use from every option, including money, power and buying people’s vote. According to Yusuf Rashid, the executive director of FIFA, the permissible use of 442 million AFN for each candidate in election campaigns has raised the concern of buying and selling of the votes. Rashid believes if the spending ceiling were lower for candidates, it was likely that they could not change people’s vote by power of money.
In response to the abovementioned concerns, the IEC has said the specified amount is appropriate and reasonable for every candidate because in 2014 election most of the candidates spent more than the allowed amount of money. The total expenses of each election campaign set only 10 million AFN but everyone exceeded the limit. Therefore, it was logical to increase the ceiling of expenses. In addition, the use of public facilities is seriously prohibited in electoral campaigns, unless the same use is allowed for all candidates.
Simultaneously, the Electoral Complaints Commission has announced readiness to file complaints about violations and offenses during the electoral campaign, as well as appeals to these complaints. According to the commission, complainers can file their complaints both at the headquarters and in the provincial offices of the ECC. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said that 9 million and 678 thousand and 283 people had registered for the election. According to the commission, these figures are not final and need to more purifications.

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

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