Election watchdogs and observers on Monday said that the country’s upcoming parliamentary and next year’s presidential elections are facing serious challenges, citing electoral fraud, security threats and the Ghazni electoral stalemate as key factors they believe will impact the process.
However, election authorities remain positive and have reaffirmed their commitment for timely elections.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has confirmed they are facing challenges but dismiss claims that these challenges could prevent elections from being held on time.
No challenge will prevent timely elections in the country, said the IEC.
“Fake stickers have been recovered, why did the election commission not announce earlier that so many stickers had gone missing,” said Abdul Wakil Babakrkhail, a member of Election Watch Afghanistan (EWA).
“The election process is a national process, people must be taken into confidence about all aspects of the issue on time,” said Gul Ahmad Azimi, a member of Afghanistan’s Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament).
“Unfortunately, we are far behind with our work, the work which we were supposed to be doing three months ago, we are doing now; this creates disruption and irregularities in the election process,” said Yousuf Rashid, CEO of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
“I talked with the attorney general on the phone, and commissioners of the election commissions; I invited them here to come and see us, but not one of them came here,” said Humayoun Humayoun, second deputy of parliament and member of the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan.
The IEC has said that it is ready to handle the challenges facing elections.
“Nine million people came and registered,” said IEC secretary Sayed Hafiz Hashemi.
According to the election monitoring groups, the Afghan government and the election commissions failure to ensure transparency around the upcoming parliamentary elections, could result in a crisis for Afghanistan.
This comes a day after IEC officials said that about 60 voter register books had gone missing in six provinces.
On Saturday some of Afghanistan’s mainstream political parties revealed thousands of fake IDs and books of stickers for voter cards.
In response to the expose, the IEC held a press conference on Sunday and officials said that the registers, that have disappeared – each containing the names of 600 registered voters - have either been stolen by thieves or seized by armed opponents.
Officials said a number of registers had been burned in Ghazni, Paktia, Nangarhar and Takhar provinces. In addition, the IEC has reportedly removed 25 questionable registers from their data base.
Photos of government officials, influential figures and MPs were used on the fake identity cards. A photo of Jabbar Qahraman, an MP and analyst, was used for five ID cards with stickers on them.
But IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad said in response to the move that by displaying all the fake IDs, the coalition is trying to sabotage Afghanistan’s upcoming elections.
“We call on the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan and any political party to share their reports, such violations, with the election commission,” said IEC cheif Abdul Badi Sayyad
The IEC further stated that it is the job of Afghanistan's Central Civil Registration Authority (ACCRA) to identity fake ID cards and not the job of the IEC.
In July, the IEC proposed a delay in parliamentary elections in Ghazni province due to “security issues and other problems”.
“Due to serious security situation and other problems in Ghazni province, it is possible that the elections will not be a just and general representation of all the province. Therefore, the issue of delay in Wolesi Jirga (Parliamentary) elections in this province shall be proposed to the constituted committee under Part 1 of Article 104 of the Election Law,” a letter signed by members of the commission reads.
Article 104 of the Election Law says:
“If security issues, incidents and natural disaster or situations like them, which will make impossible the principle of general and just representation or if it affects the legitimacy of election processes, the elections will be delayed from the specified date up to four months after suggestion by the IEC and approval of the committee comprised of head and members of the National Security Council, heads of the two houses of parliament, head of the Supreme Court and head of the independent commission overseeing the implementation of the Constitution.”
However, no further details have been released on the decision to postpone elections in Ghazni.