4 Jun 2017
Writer: Mohammad Reza Gulkohi

Polls: Endless wait

Parliamentary elections are two years overdue, and still there are no signs of when they will be held.

The presidential office has announced the holding of polls this year, but officials in the Independent Election Commission have not made any categorical statements and as a result there is speculation.

Is the government the final authority on the matter or electoral institutions?

On May 24, Abdul Aziz Aryayee, head of the Electoral Complaints Commission, expressed concern and said it was for the government to address security and financial challenges ahead of any election.
Unless these challenges are dealt with the election cannot be transparent and the political crisis would only deepen.
Who speaks the truth?
"Respected authorities please be transparent," says Fahima Shaker, a civil society activist in Kabul. "When government authorities are not transparent regarding the holding of the election – when they do not announce whether or not the election will be held this year – how can we expect the election to be conducted in transparency," she says.
Aryayee points out that the government controls both the overall management of an election and functioning of the electoral commissions.
Mohammad Nayeem Nazari, head of a civil society network believes, "The government consumes the time (wastes time) and doesn't try hard enough to hold the election (to Parliament). The leaders of the government at the same time have not worked to deliver promises regarding transparency and on-time elections."
Nazari says there are issues that have to be addressed before an election can protect the rights of voters. One of the chief concerns is the delineation of constituencies. "The electoral institutions should have announced the electoral calendar by now based on the recommendations of the former president, but they have not," he adds.
The current situation has created a wide wave of mistrust among the people, and experts believe that this situation would weaken voter support for elections.
Ali Akbar Kazemi, member of Parliament, reiterates people's trust in the democratic voting process has taken a beating (in the last presidential poll that was followed by months of uncertainty over who will form the government). "The issue will seriously lower people's partnership in the next election," he says.

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