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Skepticism surrounds prospects of election

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AT-KABUL: Political pundits and election analysts have heaped concerns over aggravation of insecurity ahead of crucial October elections, and a pyramid of drawbacks surrounding the pre-election campaign including circulation of counterfeited identity cards and voter registration stickers, meddling of strongmen in registration campaign.

Spread of bogus Tazkiras and voter registration stickers has overshadowed the prospects of the forthcoming parliamentary and districts’ council elections slated on October 20 this year. Aggravating violence also comes on top of concerns which could impinge detrimental impact on elections too.

Disgruntled senators and MPs have urged the Independent Election Commission to tame the spread of counterfeited ID cards and stickers in order to provide the grounds for genuine free and fair elections.

“Voter registration campaign is running very poorly as public are avoiding it fearing insecurity and fraud,” said political analyst Mohammad Nateqi. “We have seen many accounts of fake Tazkiras and stickers, which raised the spectre of fraud in the coming elections.”

Another problem is the continuous interference of powerful figures as well as the government in issues surrounding elections, which will undermine transparency in elections if unrestricted, he iterated. He also alleged that IEC officialsare not independent, warning a repetition of the 2014 election if the situation continues to go adrift with the same intensity.

“I believe elections will be held, but not nationwide,” said Uruzgan representative in the parliament Obaidullah Barekzai. “As it is evident, large chunks of lands are under control of Taliban, with many areas where neither any election centers has been established out of insecurity nor have national identity cards been distributed.”

Coming up with an example, he said that no election site was established and nor Tazkiras distributed in two districts of Uruzgan. Complaining about existence of fake Tazkiras and stickers, he said that such issue directly mars election transparency. If the government fails to addresses these issues, then election process will be a failure, he told Afghanistan Times.

Director of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) Naeem Ayubzada told Afghanistan Times that figures rendered by IEC regarding voter registration turnout are invalid unless they are entered in the database. It is just estimation, he said.

Besides, there are plenty of political, technical and security challenges which need to be addressed on time, he noted. Lack of an operational cell in the electoral body is another challenge, he mentioned. Coming up with an example he said that still IEC has no secretary head and deputy. Scarcity of serious willing in the government for running election is also a matter of concern, he added. Several district deprived of registration as well as number district have no female candidate, which can be serious issues.