The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday said it has launched an investigation into allegations against Obaidullah Niazi, the acting IEC field operation officer for Kabul, who has been accused of taking bribe from candidates.
While electoral monitoring groups and observes said Niazi has already been arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on charges of bribery, the election commission officials said security agencies so far have not informed the election management body about Niazi’s fate.
The IEC deputy spokesman Sayed Zabiullah Sadat said that Niazi has not come to his office since last Wednesday.
Last month, the IEC decided to replace Ezmarai Qalamyar, head of IEC’s site office for Ghazni province, with Obaidullah Niazi who at the time was serving as head of the IEC office in the eastern province of Kunar.
“We also heard such reports through media and social media platforms. Obaidullah Niazi serves as IEC’s field operation officer. He had asked for a leave on Thursday. He had informed the commission and the leadership of the commission about his leave. So far, no official has shared the issue with us. Our colleagues continue their efforts to get to the bottom of the issue. We were also informed about the issue through media. So far, no security institution has shared the issue with us to say that any of our employee or official is arrested on charges of taking bribes. The commission’s leadership is trying to gather facts about it,” Sadat explained.
“We also heard that the acting field operation officer of the independent election commission has been arrested on the spot by the personnel of the National Directorate of Security and that he is in custody. At the same time, there are some reports that some of his colleagues within election commission are trying to save him and release him,” said Yusuf Rasheed, CEO of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan TEFA.
“This is a serious issue for us and for the people of Afghanistan, because all apsects of fraud in the election process should not be ignored,” Rasheed said.
TOLOnews could get a comment from Niazi and the NDS on this report.
Some election candidates meanwhile raised their concerns over what they describe it as selling of parliament seats by the election commission.
“We praise the NDS for this action. It is a good move. Those who are involved in fraud and bribery must be arrested,” said Zalmay Zabuli, member of Meshrano Jirga, the Upper House of Parliament.
Prior to this, Zahir Akbari, the acting head of IEC office for Kabul, had stepped down from his post due to “widespread fraud and corruption allegations”.