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Future Elections and Lessons from the Past

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As Afghanistan is getting closer to the election date in 2014, the election agencies are running out of time in preparations for running a fraud-free election. There are many challenges ahead of the national election agencies which threaten the process of a sound and fair presidential election. Among them, continuation of war and insecurity across the country is a profound challenge to the elections.

According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials, the presidential and provincial council elections may not be held in some insecure districts if effective security measures are taken by security institutions before the 2014 elections. Fazal Ahmad Manawi, chief of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) told in a press conference that it would be a baseless claim to say that there would be a fraud-free election, but he pledged taking sufficient measures for preventing irregularities and frauds during the election process.

As we are getting nearer to the election date, we see a growing sense of anxiety about the election process and whether there would be a sound and fair election next year. Afghanistan is at a historical juncture and the next-year presidential and provincial councils’ elections would a milestone in present history of Afghanistan. Many observers believe that a fraudulent election in 2014 would be potentially a destabilizing even, at least politically, while the process of security and political handover is going to take more pace before a near-complete withdrawal of US-led NATO forces by the end of 2014.

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 is no coherent strategy by different national agencies in preparations for the elections ahead. Still, the government, opposition parties, lawmakers and the IEC quarrel on whether to distribute new voter cards or go ahead with previous cards. The government intends to distribute computerized ID cards for the people by which they will be able to vote for presidential and provincial councils’ elections. It is obvious from the ongoing quarrels that there would be misconducts in timely distributing voter cards or whatever in appropriate time before the elections.

In addition to that, the bad security situation across the country may virtually make it impossible to hold election in some insecure districts in far corners of the country. The head of the IEC warned that the security challenges could hamper plans of the IEC for the elections. In this regard, we must learn lessons from the experiences of past elections. In previous elections, ballot stations did not open in many areas and there were widespread irregularities and riggings in many more districts and provinces. Meanwhile, unaccounted voter cards were extensively used in favor of some candidates and the election agencies were not able to prevent the widespread irregularities and frauds.

The future elections will be no exceptions. The choices ahead are crystal clears: whether the government and elections’ institutions take effective and coherent measures for ensuring a sound and fair election or we would again have a fraudulent election with the inevitable consequences.

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