IEC’s Concerns for the Elections
There Independent Election Commission (IEC) has raised fresh concerns about the elections, saying that some certain circles are trying to halt or suspend the election process. In the eve of beginning of the candidate registration process, Ziaulhaq Amrkhil, a member of the commission said that despite the efforts aimed at postponing the elections, the IEC would proceed with the process on the due date and there were no options except holding the elections. Recently, a gathering of tribal elders in Kabul called on presidential elections to be delayed until 2018 due to bad security situation across the country.
As the IEC officials rightly emphasize, Afghanistan has no option but to go ahead with the election plan to choose a successor to the incumbent President, Hamid Karzai. Any for postponement of the election process would be meant as an irreparable blunder for the future of the country. Only a credible and fair process of elections would guarantee a safe transition process and save the future of the country. The presidential election is considered as vital in the forthcoming political transition, and any failure in the political transition could be disastrous for the future of Afghanistan. There are moves from certain groups to persuade President Karzai to prolong his rule beyond his legal term. But so far, the president himself has been cautious about any moves that could be interpreted as his efforts for delaying or manipulating the elections or even sticking to power after his legal term.
This is while many opposition figures express concerns about government’s possible intervention in the process. The recent appointments to the top security posts have prompted fresh concerns for the Afghan political spectrum about possible manipulation of the elections by President Karzia’s inner circle of power. Recently appointed to the top security post, Omar Daudzai, former Afghan ambassador to Islamabad, officially took over his new job as acting interior minister on Monday. The appointment is made shortly after Rahmatullah Nabil was appointed as the acting director of the National Directorate for Security (NDS).
On the other hand, the worsening security situation would remain as the greatest challenge for the forthcoming elections, and if the government fails to provide sufficient security for the process, the impact may be a very low turn-out in some parts of the country. This would effectively harm the process and pave the way for political interferences to the process. The Taliban are determined to disrupt the election process by intensifying attacks on election workers and polling stations as well as threatening the voters. Along escalating violent campaign across the country, the Taliban have warned the people not to participate in the election process. In his recent Eid message, the Taliban fugitive leader Mullah Omar dismissed the presidential elections as a game, warning the people not to go to polling centers for voting.
Afghanistan needs to learn from past difficult experiences. And the elections should be held on the due date. Neutrality of the security agencies and the IEC would be the key for building a national consensus among the main stakeholders on how to safeguard the forthcoming election with an outcome acceptable to all. Afghanistan has experienced fraudulent elections in the past, and the reminiscence of those electoral malpractices and irregularities is daunting for the people of Afghanistan. The IEC should strongly confront any efforts to influence the body, particularly by the government and other political players and guarantee a fair and free election process.