Kabul Tomorrow Unknown
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The Killid Group
Long wait for Salma damWritten by Muhammad Raza Gulkohi
Saturday, 30 October 2010 14:18
The list of preliminary winners in the Parliamentary elections led to protests in many provinces. Losing candidates are questioning the decisions of the electoral institutions and those from Ghazni even urge voting again.
If the next parliament is to have credibility, there needs to be more transparency in the decision-making processes of these bodies, say candidates and voters.
Fazal Ahmad Manawi, head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) had announced that of the 5.6 million ballot papers used in the elections as many as 1,300,000 were invalidated. IEC officials considered this a good move and presented this it as a measure of their efficiency and rigorous adherence to rules.
However the invalidations of these votes has been criticized by those candidates whose votes were invalidated with some candidates accusing the Commission of being partial and throwing out the votes of those who were critical of the government in the previous parliament.
Sardar Muhammad Rahman Oghli, a former MP and a candidate in the 2010 elections is one of them. He feels the Commission only invalidated the votes of those who were critical of the government.
In Paktia, Pacha Khan Zadran, a losing parliamentary candidate and his supporters blocked a major transit route in eastern Afghanistan for several days in protest against the invalidation of votes cast in his favour. The invalidated votes cannot be restored by the ECC. The ECC only has authority to consider the votes that has been counted by the IEC. The IEC has used statistical analyses to decide which votes to invalidate based on triggers such as 100% votes cast for one candidate in a polling station.
Haji Kazim Yazdani, a parliamentary candidate from Kabul is convinced that the work of the Commission has not been transparent and the tallying process and handling of the complaints was not just. He says that though there were some instances of obvious fraud, the complaints commission didn't anything about it. "In one of the polling stations where 8 friends voted for me, only two of the votes were counted. We provided a video which showed ballot box stuffing for a certain candidate. But the complaints commission didn't do anything about it."
Fazal Ahmad Manawi claims that the elections were legitimate since four million voters took part in it. , But the protesting candidates say that since complaints were not dealt with, it would call into question the legitimacy of the next parliament.
The criticism is not limited to the candidates but also includes voters. "If the Electoral Complaints Commission does not provide a convincing response to the complaints of people and dissatisfied candidates, it will impact negatively on the next Parliament and its members", says Mohammad Sarwar, a businessman. He however feels there is an opportunity to address these questions and clarify issues. If this does not happen, it could impact on the efficiency of the next parliament, says Liaqat Ali Amini, a parliamentary candidate from Kabul province. "If the Electoral Complaints Commission does not perform its duties properly and to the satisfaction of the voters, it will undoubtedly decrease the Afghan legislature's power and authority."
Ghazni claims voting again
Prior to the elections Afghan National Security Forces had announced that elections could not be held only in six districts of the country (out of approximately 400) because of the lack of security. However polling could not take place in as many as 15 districts on polling day. One of the provinces where no polling took place in many of its districts is the province of Ghazni, it seems that because of security problems. Despite a considerable population of Pashtuns in the province, there are no Pasthun candidates but only 16 Hazara candidates elected to the parliament from this province. This raises a critical question about the lack of ethnic balance in the parliament from this region and also begs the question as to why the government could not ensure security of the voters.
Niaz Mohammad Amiri, a parliamentary candidate from Ghazni province believes: "It seems the only solution according to the Constitution is to hold the election again in the 8 districts which were insecure.
"There were some districts where ballot boxes were taken back with their seals unbroken because they were not used," Amiri claimed adding "these ballot boxes were not opened deliberately by the provincial electoral offices and that is the reason people could not cast their votes."
There have been numerous complaints about electoral officials and the IEC head, Manavi confirmed that complaints about many election officials had been forwarded to the ECC.
As the electoral process draws to a close the importance of its transparency becomes more apparent, with voters watching to see what happens. "A member of parliament should be selected directly by people and not win the parliamentary seat according to political ties and settlements", says Abdul Razaq, a worker in a brick factory.