Election Reform Delay a Threat to Afghanistan, Warn Observers

Any more delays in electoral reforms may further delay the conduct of the parliamentary elections and pose serious threats to Afghanistan’s national interests as well as the nation’s political stability, say observers and election monitoring groups.

Afghan Civil Society and Elections Network (ACSEN) on Wednesday expressed concern over the current deadlock and warned against backpedaling from the reform agenda. Such a move was an act of oppression against the Afghan people.

As hope and desperation over the reform process continue, observers have urged the joint commission of the Afghan parliament to ratify the presidential decree to protect the nation’s interests and political stability.

Joining ACSEN, the Election Watch Afghanistan (EWA) has called on the government to engage parliament urgently and to take the need for electoral reform seriously.

Despite senators’ approval of the legislative decree, there are still concerns that the much-awaited decree will cause another deadlock.

“Those who strive to prevent the process are committing an act of oppression against the people. This will discourage the people and raise questions over the credibility of the parliament,” head of ACSEN Jandad Spinghar said.

The only hope for a reform of the election law, was for the joint committee of both chambers of parliament to approve the legislative decree and so end speculation over the fate of the electoral process.

“We hope that the committee will approve the decree for the sake of the national interest and thereby ensure political stability The government needs to start lobbying parliamentarians for this purpose,” EWA member Habibullah Shinwari said.

The joint committee of the parliament is scheduled to debate the decree next week.

“We, on behalf of the senate, are fully prepared and some senators have been tasked to achieve consensus. I hope that similar preparations will be undertaken by the Wolesi Jirga (Lower house of parliament), secretary of senate Abdullah Qarloq said.

Bringing about key reforms in Afghanistan’s election law, was among the top priorities of leaders of national unity government. To date the country’s two top leaders, president Ashraf Ghani and his CEO Abdullah Abdullah, have not yet delivered on their election reform promises, observers say.

“It should be the national unity government’s main priority to implement the necessary electoral reforms,” said Mohammad Natiqi, head of the commission overseeing implementation of the political agreement.

Observers believed that bringing about crucial reforms to the elections law, will help the country overcome lingering election issues and ensure political stability in the country.

On June 11th, Wolesi Jirga again rejected President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s legislative decree on electoral reforms. That raised more alarms among the election monitoring groups over the lack of will within the government to deliver on their reforms promises.

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