Completion of Complaints Probes
The election complaints commission announced that the process of considering election complaints is completed. The spokesman of the ECC told at a press conference that the commission would soon submit the findings of the probes and investigations to the Independent Election Commission (IEC). According to the spokesman of the IEC, votes from a number of voting stations have been voided and others were validated. He gave no further details. The nation is waiting for the results of the elections while there are skepticisms regarding the ECC’s conduct of dealing with vote riggings and frauds. However, the ECC made all efforts to convince the candidates that the process is fair and transparent.
Apparently, these efforts yielded results. The ECC’s measure to isolate votes from dozens of polling stations was right thing to do when there are widespread concerns among the public and the stakeholders of the elections particularly the candidates. A number of presidential candidates have raised objections over the counting process, warning that the electoral commissions were responsible for consequences of what they claimed, the fraudulent votes being counted. In addition to the candidates, the election advocacy group, Free and Fair Elections Foundation for Afghanistan, has once urged the two electoral commissions to let the media and civil society organizations monitor the counting and examination of the process of counting ballots.
Obviously, credibility of the election process is highly related to the role the Independent Election Commission and the Election Complaints Commission play in the process of tallying the votes and determining the winner of the elections. Despite that the electoral commissions have led the elections much more transparently than it did in the previous elections in 2009, there have been objections from Abdullah’s team to the IEC and ECC’s conduction of the electoral irregularities and frauds. In his first press conference after announcement of the preliminary results of the elections, Dr. Abdullah objected the electoral bodies criticized the commissions for not considering the fraudulent votes and concerted irregularities in the outcome of the preliminary count.
Given the concerns raised after the announcement of the preliminary results of the elections, the ECC needs to fully and transparently consider all wrongdoings during and after the elections. This is the only option for the electoral bodies to ensure a sound outcome for the historical vote of 5th April. There is much at stake for the country if the ECC fails to look into the complaints registered and decide based on any criteria rather than the mandate of the citizens. If the electoral commissions find the allegations of concerted frauds and irregularities legitimate, it should act neutrally and save democracy and future of Afghanistan by protecting legitimacy of the elections. Despite that the election process has gone forward smoothly, it would be a historical mistake to think that everything will go right by default. The process will go into the right direction and Afghanistan will succeed in its most important democratic practice only if the electoral bodies do their crucial role impartially and transparently.