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Political Players Divided on Removal of ECCS Foreign Advisers

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KABUL – The absence of foreign advisers in Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) will pave the way for massive fraud in the upcoming presidential election, critics of the new law said on Monday. A joint senate-parliament commission approved the law on Sunday regarding the structure and function of the ECC and the Independent Election Commission (IEC). After last year’s heated debates over foreigners being part of the ECC, the commission decided to remove foreign observers altogether.

“The presence of these two foreign members in the Electoral Complaints Commission secured high levels of trust from the people in the election process. Now that their presence has been eliminated, this could remove the transparency and fairness of the elections,” warned National Front member Fazil Rahman Orya.

But the IEC has dismissed the concerns that the lack of foreign members on the ECC will impact transparency because foreigners will still assist on some matters where needed. “There are some issues where foreign advisers can work [with the ECC] as a member in order to have transparency because the commission is newly established and they do not have enough capacity and there are some other issues. So [the government’s decision] will not have any negative impact on the election process,” IEC spokesperson Noor Mohammad Noor said.

Meanwhile, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) emphasised that the selection of the ECC members is more important than the presence of foreign advisers. “If the qualifications of the ECC commissioners are taken seriously in that they must be professional and impartial, and they must be appointed via a mechanism not only by the president but also by civil and academic installations, then this will be more effective than two foreign members,” FEFA executive director Jandad Spinghar said.

However, some political parties still regard this as insufficient. “If there were two foreign members on the Electoral Complaints Commission, it would help the transparency of the elections. The Selection Committee can help the election process but not as much as the two foreign members on the Electoral Complaints Commission,” Right and Justice party member Moeen Marastiyal said.

The presidential election is to be held 5 April 2014 and is seen as a crucial event in Afghanistan’s political transition from President Hamid Karzai’s 11-year leadership. (Tolonews)


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