The Tricky Process of Vote Audit
The process of vote audit resumed a day after differences emerged between the two election camps. According to the IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor, the differences emerged between the two sides whether votes with voter signatures and finger impressions should be considered as valid or not. With the suspension of the process Sunday, the two teams and the United Nations started negotiations for reaching an agreement over the problem. According to the IEC officials, the stakeholders have agreed to count the votes with signatures as valid. This is while the IEC spokesman had said earlier that based on the commission’s internal regulations, the votes that expose identities of the voters by fingerprints and signatures.
The differences over the process of vote audit indicate the challenges that lie ahead of the process. It proves the democratic experiment in the country a very immature and flawed one. Lack of commitment among the Afghan political spectrum discredited the democratic process for power transition and is continuing to harm Afghanistan’s long-term interests. And the responsibility for this situation lies mainly on the Afghan government that failed to lead a sound and transparent process. The aftermaths of the runoff election was almost a total failure for the country as it led Afghanistan on the brink of a potential abyss of violence and civil war. Along with the government, the Independent Election Commission and its audit branch Electoral Complaints Commission played a terribly flawed role in the process.
Given that the process has been almost derailed from its constitutional ground there are now immense distrusts among the public regarding the whole political process. John Kerry’s mediation which produced an agreement of power-sharing between the two candidates was deemed as an outlet from the crisis. As a result of the agreement, election tensions deescalated and the process of vote audit got underway. With the agreement, a potentially dangerous crisis was averted and Afghanistan closely missed another chapter of instability and violence. The irresponsible approach of Afghan statesmen and national institutions towards the country’s election process harmed the country in a way that can be compared to the Taliban insurgency.
Despite the US-mediate agreement saved Afghanistan from a potential instability and brought it back to the consititional course, the election camps still are pushing for their narrow-sighted interests while national institutions such as the electoral commissions have lost the legitimacy to the eyes of the public to judge differences and make decisions for the process. Seemingly, the candidate’s camps have been engaged in differences over whether votes with fingerprints and signatures shall be invalidated or not. This raises the question that while the two teams are not able to commit to their agreement when it comes to the relatively clean votes from Kabul province, how they would be able to handle the process and stick to their commitments when the election bodies start auditing votes from other controversial provinces.
Anyway, the election camps must remain committed to the agreement made recently. And the government and electoral bodies need to learn from the past experiences and lead a sound process based on democratic principles and Afghanistan’s long-term interests.