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Electoral bodies must be independent, say watchdogs

7 Apr 2021 - 19:14
7 Apr 2021 - 19:14

KABUL (Pajhwok): Two electoral watchdogs and civil society activists on Wednesday called for reforms in the election commissions which they insisted must be independent in their affairs and making their decisions.

The call for reforms came at a consultative meeting between electoral bodies (FIFA and TEFA) and civil society representatives in Kabul to discuss the draft election law.

During the meeting, Omid Noorzai, FIFA’s program manager, said that although the IEC was spending a lot of money to carry out its work, its affairs remained unsatisfactory.

He called for reforms in the election commissions before holding elections. “Holding elections in such a situation is a big mistake. Reforms must come first,” Noorzai said.

His remarks come days after President Ashraf Ghani said if a peace deal with the Taliban reached, it would soon pave the way for elections.

But Noorzai said it was not possible to hold elections in the short term given Afghanistan’s security and economic situation.

During the meeting, TEFA member Sughra Sadat said that in addition to reforming the electoral commissions, decision-making power should be given in all matters. She added that a special tribunal should be set up to deal with electoral crimes.

Sadat suggested that political parties, civil society activists and other foundations should share their plans elections with the Ministry of Justice and incorporate key points into the election law.

Mohammad Qasim Elias, a representative of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), said the commissions had been reformed and their capacity had enhanced.

At present, he said, 99 percent of elections were conducted by Afghans themselves, with only a handful of foreigners providing advice.

But Elias said the election commissions were not independent in terms of election budgets, and the government should give them that power.

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