A recent verdict by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) to send a small percentage of the 300,000 disputed votes for a special audit came under domestic and international pressure, a number of campaign teams said on Thursday as Afghans await the final results of last September’s presidential elections.
Reactions from critics came a day after the IECC decided to send the representative samples of a group of 8,400 polling stations for a special audit.
“They wanted to get rid of the responsibility lying on their shoulders and they failed to hold up under the pressure. They failed to fulfill their duty and responsibility in the right way,” said Fazel Ahmad Manavi, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's Stability and Convergence campaign.
Fazel Hadi Wazeen, the second running mate to presidential candidate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said that the IECC did not have a free hand to decide on the election complaints, but was in fact under political pressure.
“Unfortunately, the Electoral Complaints Commission failed to make a historic decision and implement the law that the Afghan people were expecting. This decision is totally a political one and will not help to end the election crisis and instead it will increase the crisis,” said Wazeen.
However, the State Building campaign team led by President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the move by the IECC.
“Our views were different from the rest of the teams from the beginning, they always described those decisions as illegal that weren’t supporting their interests, but we are accepting these decisions,” said Ajmal Hoodman, a member of Ghani's State Building team.
Meanwhile, representatives of the independent election observers' institutions have said that the Electoral Complaints Commission has further complicated the election process.
“Because two teams had two different demands, the commission didn’t want to take sides and this decision was safer for them,” said Mohammad Yousuf Rashid, head of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
The Independent Election Commission will aid with the process.
“Whenever we get decisions by the Electoral Complaints Commission, we will start the implementation phase,” said Habiburrahman Nang, a member of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Overview of 300,000 disputed votes:
86,000 of the 300,000 disputed votes-- from 2,000 out of 2423 polling stations-- had discrepancies or other issues with the corresponding biometric data, or came from polling stations without functioning biometric devices on polling day.
309 polling stations yielded 137,000 "suspicious" votes. If 65 percent of the small sample audit of those 309 polling stations meet the special criteria, then the IECC will recognize the total 137,000 votes as credible, but if the audited votes fail, then all 137,000 votes will be audited.
The IECC also decided to examine 15 percent of 1103 polling stations--with a total of 102,000 votes--which, according to timestamps from devices, campaign teams say were cast either before or after the legal hours for voting on election day. If the special audit completed meets 65 percent of the IECC’s criteria, then the total 102,000 votes will be recognized as credible votes.