The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday said Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s claims of irregularities in the voter registration process and ghost voters were baseless.
IEC officials said if Hekmatyar has any proof to back up his allegations, he should hand it over to the commission.
Hekmatyar on Tuesday said the voter registration process was being rigged and that there are more than five million ghost voters.
The IEC meanwhile said by the end of next month any ghost voters would have been picked up.
“We are accountable for every sticker. These stickers were entered in the system ahead (of the voter registration process). No stickers are being sold at bazaars and if anyone makesallegations in this regard, they need to hand over proof,” the IEC commissioner Sayed Hafizullah Hashemi said.
Hekmatyar also defended the political parties and said their calls to participate in the elections were valid. He said their existence strengthened national unity in the country and that the president should respond to their calls.
Hekmatyar also warned that political parties must not be shut out of the election process and that elections need to be transparent otherwise party supporters will take to the streets and close all IEC offices.
A coalition of political parties recently called on government to give them a share in elections. However, there has been no progress made in this regard.
Hashemi meanwhile said in response to Hekmatyar’s comments that the IEC works in accordance with the law and that they can not just give political parties a share in the election unless the law is amended.
“We only work based on the law. Without changing the law, nothing is possible. If they want to change the law in one day, then the commission is also ready to do this (give share to parties) in one day. Changing the law is not easy and also it is not the right time,” Hashemi said.
IEC officials meanwhile said on Wednesday they have appointed 500 new staff members to enter voter registration information into the database.
Sayed Ibrahim Sadat, head of the IEC’s IT department said ghost and genuine voters will be separated once all names of registered voters have been entered into the system.
Sadat said so far, they have entered the names and details of around 700,000 voters into the system and that the process will be finalized within the next few weeks.
“So far information of about 700,000 voters has been entered in to the database and we are trying to finish this by August 14. We should wait another one or two weeks to enter all the information about the nine million voters into the database and then we will figure out whether the allegations that there are five million ghost voters is true or not,” said Sadat.
Election watchdogs have welcomed the use of technology but said they are concerned about incorrect information being entered into the database.
A number of political parties however said the parties are supported by the people and if government does not accept their demands, they will challenge the election process.
“Political parties have a key role in elections and the leaders of the parties are supported by the people and people listen to them. They can challenge and question the elections,” Moen Moen, a member of Mehwar-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan said.
A number of MPs also came out in support of Hekmatyar on Wednesday but emphasized that there was no other option but to use a biometric system in order to hold transparent elections.