As Afghanistan’s presidential elections get closer, election observers and political party officials on Monday lashed out at the Independent Election Commission (IEC) over its failure to address their concerns regarding biometric identification devices.
According to the political parties, the IEC has failed to complete the installation of new software in the biometric devices aimed at preventing duplicate finger prints and digital images on the day of voting.
Representatives of the political parties said that if the election commission does not explain issues around the biometric devices, it would mean that an organized fraud is underway.
“The commission has failed to provide sufficient information to the candidates and the political parties regarding transparency,” said Humayoun Jarir, a member of the Committee for Political Parties and Political Movements.
“I can say with confidence that the application which was supposed to be installed for identifying the photograph and the finger prints has not been installed in biometric devices and it is not connected with the main server, ” added Jarir.
“It is meaningless when your server is not operational and you send biometric devices to the provinces. When your server is not working, it means that you have underestimated all of your responsibilities. We expect the commission to report to us in the next two or three days,” said Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of the Committee for Political Parties and Political Movements.
But officials in the IEC have said that the biometric devices are still in the process of being prepared.
“We are not saying that there are no challenges, but we cannot talk about the challenges that we are not sure about. The technical aspect of election management is on track. All devices have been purchased. We have also studied the issues we have had in the previous elections. Changes have been made when it comes to policy issues,” said Habiburrahman Nang, head of the IEC secretariat.
The IEC has dispatched more than 23,000 biometric devices to polling centers across the country.
The Afghan presidential elections are scheduled on 28 September.
“Only eleven days remain until elections. From a technical perspective, this is very little time to tackle the issue of preparing the servers. The commission should have been prepared before, because now we have very little time, so it is difficult to deal with technical issues,” said Sughra Saadat, spokeswoman for the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA).