Election observers and critics on Monday raised concerns over what they described as the possible influence of the German-based Dermalog company on the results of the presidential election, saying the Independent Election Commission (IEC) does not have control of the data center and the biometric devices.
Critics raised questions on the freedom of the Independent Election Commission, saying the commission should not have allowed a foreign company to take control of the voter database.
Naeem Ayoubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), said: “Unfortunately, Dermalog is not an electoral company to know the management of the election process, secondly, if this company takes responsibility, there is no trust and confidence in it and there are chances of fraud. Dermalog company has its own links with the government and also with international players.”
The Dermalog company currently works closely with the Election Commission:
“The commission’s status and credibility as an independent body are facing questions. The interaction they had with Dermalog, whether in the shape of a contract or an agreement--they have to give the management of the data and the information and statistics to Dermalog. At the moment, Dermalog has the same status as the election commission while the commission itself works as a technical secretariat of this company,” said Yousuf Rashid, the head of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
“What is Dermalog is really trying to do with the votes of the people?” asked Mobinullah Emaq, an observer.
Meanwhile the IEC says that based on the approved principles, the commission doesn’t have access to the database and biometric devices, however, the election commission insists that Dermalog is supposed to work according to the standards of the election commission.
“The election commission does not have control of the server--we only provide them with our standards and they (Dermalog) implement those standards,” said Awrangzeb, an IEC commissioner.
“All works that are carried out by Dermalog are based on the commission’s procedures and decisions,” said Rahima Zarifi, an IEC commissioner.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has once again called for neutrality from the election management bodies.
“Transparent elections in our country will help to save democracy, the democratic process and to maintain stability. Therefore we want the honorable commissions to work with complete independence and keep transparency during the remaining process of the election,” said Abdullah while chairing the Council of Ministers Meeting on Monday.
This comes a day after the Election Commission said that the Dermalog company has provided the election commission different figures of the biometric votes and that the two figures show a 137,000 vote difference.