A New Chapter in the Election Process
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) began the process of registering presidential nominees on Monday. But no candidate referred to the IEC to register for the presidential race on the first day. According to IEC officials, 29 people have received information for registering in the presidential election. No candidate registration on the first day of the candidate registration process is suggesting that it would be hard for many of the candidates to qualify for registration as there are a number of tough conditions for the nominees to meet before registering for presidential contest. The IEC officials said that the reason that no one came for registration was probably that the process is more demanding this year. “We hope that the candidates come for registration. They have likely not yet come because of the demands of the election law,” said Noor Mohammad Noor, the IEC Spokesman.
On the other hand, President Karzai named five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) after fifteen candidates were referred to the president by Selection Committee. The ECC will have the task to consider electoral irregularities and complaints beginning its main part of the task on the day after the election. The role of the ECC in the election process would be crucial as it is the body responsible for overseeing soundness and fairness of the election process.
Neutrality of the election bodies including IEC and ECC would be the key for holding a fair and credible election next year. The role of the two main election bodies would be crucial for building a national consensus among the main stakeholders of the Afghanistan politics on how to safeguard the forthcoming election with an outcome acceptable to everyone. Afghanistan has experienced fraudulent elections in the past, and the reminiscence of those electoral malpractices and irregularities is daunting for the people of Afghanistan. We should learn from the difficult experiences of past elections. The IEC and IEC should strongly confront any external efforts to influence them, particularly by the government and other strongmen in the Afghan political arena.
Despite that officials have made promises for effective measure to ensure a fair and free election, but the pledges have been surrounded with ambiguities and uncertainties as there are still numerous challenges ahead of the elections. One of the most daunting concerns is that the Afghan politics may further get polarized based on ethnic and geographical lines. As the alliances are emerging in the election politics, it is now up to the leaders and politicians to do more to make the coalitions even more inclusive through negotiations with each other and avoid the notion of political polarization based on ethnic lines in the country. It is best for interests of Afghanistan as well as the political parties to avoid further polarization of politics in the country and start building true and genuine political coalitions based on standard rules of politics defined within democratic systems. The forthcoming election is a major test for Afghan political elites and a fair and credible election would save the future of the country.