A number of Afghan election monitoring groups on Saturday voiced concerns over what they said was a lack of a strong will among the leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) to finalize Electoral Reform Commission appointments.
Officials and observers at these groups asserted that the ongoing political discordance among NUG leaders could de-motivate the public who want reforms.
“Government wants to further complicate the issue and create another stalemate,” said Yousuf Rashid, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA). “A symbolic reform will probably take place and the government will summarize the reforms only to two or three issues and will then claim to have reformed the system.”
One of the main points of agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah when forming the national unity government was to reform the country’s weak electoral system – which was believed to be the reason for massive electoral fraud in last year’s presidential elections – which was the longest election in the country’s history.
However, the electoral advocacy groups accuse the NUG leaders of wasting their time and losing the opportunity to bring the promised all encompassing reforms.
Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) explained that the discordance between NUG leaders was the fundamental reason behind the continued delay in finalizing the commission.
“If we move forward with the same system, we will lose support from the international community and also the number of voters in the coming election. And finally, the election will lose its credibility in the country and all the past achievements will also be lost,” Ayubzada said.
Highlighting the importance of electoral reform, a deputy spokesman for Abdullah, Asif Ashna, called upon Afghans to raise their voices over the issue which he said was the basic need of the citizens and democracy.
He warned if the National Security Council failed to decide on the fate of the electoral reform commission in its coming meeting this week, he would expose – by the permission of CEO Abdullah – all the details behind the delay in reforming the election system.
“The issue of electoral reform shouldn’t be deemed only the responsibility of the chief executive [Abdullah], but the entire people of Afghanistan should raise their voice for it. We want people’s votes to decide the fate of upcoming elections,” Ashna said.
In addition, a number of Afghan legislators stated that the coming parliamentary election would not be possible without necessary changes.
“The electoral reform commission must be formed as soon as possible and the election date must be announced. I think this would be the best way to gain people’s trust [in elections],” MP Masooda Karokhail said.