Kabul Tomorrow Sunny
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The Killid Group
Leaders or Dealers from the polls?Written by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Monday, 08 November 2010 10:03
The continuing delays in the announcement of final results of the September 18 parliamentary elections has given rise to many doubts both amongst the candidates as well as ordinary voters. Whether or not these are justified it seems that without transparency and convincing answers the next parliament will lack credibility.
Farid Ahmad, a voter from Kabul is waiting for the announcement of the results. He believes that the delay will pave the way for fraud in the results giving opportunists a chance to influence it in different ways.
Usually in most parts of the world election results are announced a few days after the holding of elections. However, in Afghanistan this process has been delayed due to many difficulties related to insecurity as well as the absence of established democratic institutions and processes. Not only did the polling day itself have to be postponed, but the deadlines set for announcing the preliminary and final results were not met. It seems that the delays occurred because of a huge number of complaints from protesting candidates.
Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesperson of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) however emphasizes that the delays are because of the emphasis in ensuring transparency and proper adjudication of the complaints. "There is no one who has changed the results of the elections illegally by stealing the votes of Afghans who have voted", he told Killid.
Despite the IEC's confidence, there are many who protest that the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) have not been transparent. A number of candidates who did not win seats in these elections came together on November 1 to protest against the IEC accusing it of having betrayed the votes of Afghans who participated in the elections.
Kabir Ranjbar, one of the candidates, said that the real votes were replaced by fake ones. "We will never allow the illegal results of September 18 parliamentary election to be accepted", Ranjbar said. Noorulhaq Oloomi, an Afghan MP who has lost in the recent elections, accused Afghan officials of taking part in behind the scene deals to change the results. "All Afghan officials, IEC and ECC officials gave the votes to powerful men." The candidates said they would continue their peaceful protests in order to bring pressure on the electoral bodies including by holding protests with more crowded gatherings.
A number of angry failed candidates in Baghlan province marched and protested against parliamentary election results. Jalaluddin Bajgahi, one of the angry candidates and leader of the protesting candidates committee, said: "Officials should look into the fraud. Otherwise Afghans will lose their confidence in the Afghan government's sovereignty."
The protesters believe that if they do not get a logical and reasonable response to their protests, it will lead to a loss of credibility on democratic processes such as elections.
The ECC, however, points out that it is currently engaged in looking into the complaints. "Maybe these claims of the candidates are being considered", said Ahmad Zia Rafat, Member and spokesperson to the ECC.
Undoubtedly, whatever the reason for the delay in the final announcement, it is likely to be damaging for the futureJandad Spinghar, Head of FEFA (Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan), said: "The IEC & ECC process of looking into the complaints was not transparent and clear." But Ahmad Zia Rafat believes this judgment is far too early and insists that the ECC is a completely neutral body. "A number of failed candidates protest their complaints were not fully considered. They should announce which complaints are being considered or not and it will be up to the ECC to deal with these complaints", he said.
The process of invalidating votes by the ECC has resulted in a number of winning candidates being ruled out of the race. The votes of Ghulam Qader Akbar, a candidate from Herat province, and Mahmood Khan Solaiman Khan, from Paktia province, were invalidated. Haji Nesar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani, who was earlier leading with 17000 votes in Herat province, was invalidated because of his failure to resign from his government job.
It seems clear that unless there is transparency about the process of invalidating votes and looking into complaints, the credibility of the elections will be impacted. Another question that remains is whether the polling will be repeated in some areas. However, IEC spokesperson Noor said "there is not enough money to hold polls a second time." Will the protesting candidates considered it a valid reason?