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Electoral reforms package inconclusive: FEFA

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By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) on Sunday said the electoral reforms package is incomplete and need further improvement.

Welcoming the Electoral Reforms Commission (ERC) recommendations, the FEFA’s Chief Executive, Mohammad Yusuf Rashid, said the package has positive as well as negative and complicated points that need to be elaborated.

Following the presidential decree, the ERC presented a reform proposal recently to the government. The package included different recommendations such as invalidation of existing voter cards, distribution of electronic national identification cards and ‘parallel’ system of voting where one-third of parliamentary seats shall be allotted to political parties. In the package the ERC suggested decrease in member of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials, from nine to seven.

Rashid said that voters’ list provision, increasing seats for women, change in voting system, mechanism to address complaints and revising polling sites are the positive points. However, the formation of transparency committee, division of polling stations, relation between the two electoral commissions and relation with provincial offices are the issues that remained unclear and there is no specified mechanism for implementation, he added.

He said the proposal not pointed anything to the relations among commission, secretary and provincial offices. The major issue is unspecified.

Mechanism to provide list of voters and the way which commission should provide this list are with paradoxes and has technical challenges. Similarly, there are many other issues to be addressed, he asserted.

He said that FEFA asked the ERC to consider the suggestion seriously, which are: the selection committee must share candidates name with people and collect complaints about the candidates; structure of electoral bodies must be studied and changed in a way to value chain and authorities be clear among commission, secretary and provincial offices; conditions should be considered in hiring members of IEC in complaint commission; complaint commission session and decision making must be publicly; at the objective of transparency the IEC must presented its annual report to the Wolesi Jirga and share it with public; parallel system should be defined and the mechanism of introducing of parties’ candidates need to be cleared.

The FEFA suggestion also comprised of that the political parties in their open list in election competition must consider national participation and gender and shall not introduce more than one candidate from one province. The FEFA further suggested: the organ addressing complaints against parties should be cleared; mechanism of cooperation of governmental and nongovernmental organizations with electoral bodies must be specified; in addition to cash penalty, punishment for electoral fraudulent and violator should be specific; if the election need to be postponed, which organs should have the right in the aspect so the issue should be cleared and included in the election law.

It is pertained to mention that both President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah during 2014 election vowed to reforms the electoral bodies, but in the last 10 months the National Unity Government failed to introduce reforms in the electoral commissions.