Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNMA) on Tuesday said the UN is encouraged by the recent increase in numbers of people who have registered to vote in the country.
“On elections, I would first of all like to say that I am very encouraged by the recent increase in the pace of the voter registration process. We have already seen over 1.7 million Afghan people register up until now, and 28 percent of them are women,” said Yamamoto.
While tensions between the IEC chief and his colleagues over stamping of copies of ID cards gathers fresh momentum, the UNAMA chief says that the international body respects the decision by the IEC regarding the issue.
“The United Nations is supporting the process, working closely with the IEC, and giving them technical advice. We are working very closely in all aspects of the electoral process. The IEC has the sole, exclusive authority to take decisions on electoral preparations and implementation. Nobody has challenged that authority,” he said.
There are many, many challenges still ahead to conduct transparent and credible, inclusive elections. We are working on it. We hope that we will make it as credible as we can so that the people participate in the October parliamentary elections, and also the presidential elections in 2019 because people have to realize that registration for voting is for both elections, the UN envoy said.
On the use of ID copies, Yamamoto said: “The modality of elections, including the use of photocopies for voter registration, should be a decision to be made clear by the IEC.”
Meanwhile, Anwarul Haq Ahadi, chairman the New National Front party of Afghanistan, has said that the plan to stamp ID copies will increase fraud in the elections.
“We appreciate the decision made by four commissioners of the independent election commission, they have not surrendered to the orders of ARG (presidential palace) and have kept their sovereignty,” said Ahadi.
“Stamping the copy of the ID cards will pave the way for fraud,” said MP Ghulam Farooq Majroh.
This comes as the IEC prepares to launch the second phase of the voter registration process in the districts. The IEC has opened 387 voter registration centers in the districts
Meanwhile, officials from the IEC have said that 1,832,791 people registered so far to vote in the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections.
However, IEC deputies and two commissioners on Sunday told TOLOnews that the decision to stamp copies of voter ID cards is illegal and that they are against the move.
The commissioners refused to talk on camera but said the decision was made by President Ashraf Ghani and IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad.
The commissioners said only Sayyad and another commissioner agreed to the decision, but they, the four commissioners, were opposed to the move.
IEC operational deputy head Wasima Badghisi, IEC financial and administrative deputy head Mazaaullah Dawlati, and IEC commissioners Abdul Qadir Quraishi and Maliha Hassan are the four commissioners who oppose the IEC chief and Ghani’s new decision regarding the voter registration process.
The four commissioners have signed a letter in which they said they are against the move. According to them, based on the election law the commission does not have the authority to shift or amend electoral approaches during the election process.
The commissioners said they have signed a letter in the presence of representatives of the United Nations in Kabul and Shahla Haq, acting secretariat of the IEC, to announce their disagreement over the decision to stamp copies of voter ID cards.
But the IEC chief, in collaboration with President Ashraf Ghani, announced the plan as being practical. The UNAMA chief said that the body strongly supports the IEC’s decision.
A month after launching the voter registration process, the IEC announced that members of the public eligible to vote can produce a copy of their IDs to register to vote. The copy will in turn be stamped – rather than the original.
But the move sparked major retaliation from Afghan politicians and CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
The new move comes after the IEC extended the voter registration process for another month in cities.
According to IEC statistics, over 1,832,791 people have registered so far to vote in the elections.
Of these, 1,277,320 are men, 516,519 are women, 42,730 are Kuchis (Nomads) and 287 are Sikhs.
Kabul, with 656,197, has had the highest turnout of any city so far.