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The Killid Group

Results in, protestors out

Written by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 28 November 2010 13:12

Results in, protestors out

The results of the Parliamentary elections have finally been announced, but the protests by losing candidates have cast a shadow on the credibility of the electoral process.

The final results of the September 18 Parliamentary election were announced on November 24 after repeated delays but the announcement itself was challenged by the office of the Attorney General which said the results shouldhave been withheld pending investigations. The results included information from 33 provinces, with the controversial Ghazni results being withheld because not a single Pashtun candidate but 11 Hazaras were elected, something that had led to calls for a re-poll and threats of ethnic protests.

27 candidates were replaced from the initial list of preliminary winners as a result of the adjudication of the complaints by the ECC. But the protests from losing candidates have worried all Afghans. "The current controversies will absolutely decrease the value and credibility of the elections and reduce the value of the vote", says Abdul Ahad who participated in the recent polls.

The main charge pertaining to the results is that the electoral processes were not conducted neutrally but that decisions were made in exchange for political favours and economic considerations. The Attorney General,  Ishaq Aloko, who has been investigating the electoral bodies, has said that there are documents that prove that decisions about the winning candidates were being made in the Kabul and Dubai Money and Stock Exchange Markets. The Attorney General, who gave this information in the Meshrano Jirga, said his office had received many complaints about the ECC, but that the ECC had not responded to the queries it had sent.  The AG said he had suspended two employees of the IEC and ECC. He also alleged that the Chief of Staff of the office of the Head of the IEC had run away, but this was denied by the head of IEC, Mr. Fazl Ahmed Manavi.

One of the controversial issues is how to consider the electoral complaints. ECC received 5650 electoral complaints after the polling on September 18. Candidates who have lost or whose names were removed from the preliminary list have termed the actions of the electoral bodies a political abuse. Rahima Jami whose name was dropped from the list termed the decision a political act. Kalimzay, another candidate whose name crossed out from the final list of winners said the ECC's decision was based on personal intent rather than evidence.

The consequence of protests

"It is good that the ECC looks into these complaints and investigates them, but the complaints should be dealt with fairly and transparently", says Atefeh, a student. Some believe that the ECC has actually done its job fairly. "The ECC considered all electoral complaints without any personal, individual and factional favours and goals and they considered these complaints transparently", says Maisan Ghaznavi, a political expert.

Mohammad Yunus Qanouni, speaker of the Wolesi jirga, alleges that some of the prominent candidates who had a good support base were nonetheless removed from the list of winning candidates. "If there was any favoured practice in this field, it is completely unacceptable", he said.

Some of the failed candidates have protested several times so far and marched in the streets. In the last such protest they blocked the highway to the North including the critical Salang tunnel. Candidate Hashmat Karzai from Kandahar province blocked the Kabul Kandahar highway in protest. "If the electoral process is headed towards a final result through fraud, it is a destruction of democracy", says Liaqat Ali Amini, one of the protesting candidates who was part of this demonstration. He called for rule of law and ensuring transparency in the electoral process.

But Noor Mohammed Noor, spokesman of the IEC, believes Afghans have a right to public demonstrations.  "There will be no change in IEC's decision and eventually those will enter parliament will be those who have enough votes."

There are concerns within the Afghan public about the consequences of the ongoing protest on the security situation and the formation of the parliament. Some of the protestors have threatened to intensify their agitation and form more anti-government political groups.

Ahmad Khan Samangani, MP and one of the protested candidates, believed ECC was responsible for favouritism.  Samangani is a senior commander of the Junbish-e-Milli led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum and he asserted that he would take steps to protect his rights.

Most of the analysts and political leaders have called for calm and spoken out against the use of any violence. "Violence will devalue the rights of the citizen", says Mohammed Qasim Erfani, a lecturer in Kateb University. President Hamid Karzai also said violence would be a national betrayal and an act of selfishness. He said the ECC should consider the complaints transparently and terminate the current controversy.

At the time Killid went to print both the UN and the U.S. Embassy had issued statements in support of the IEC and the ECC but it was unclear how far they would intervene to resolve the political controversies. The ball for now appears to be back in the court of the electoral institutions, but can it resolve the issue?


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