The Vetting Process of Candidates
The registration process of the presidential candidates ended formally on Sunday. Many of the presidential hopefuls registered with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the last hours of the registration period before the planned deadline. According to the reports, 22 people registered for running in the presidential election by the registration deadline on Sunday night. On the final day of candidates’ registration, what surprised many was the rush of several nominees for last-minute registration. The registration process began about three weeks ago with no one registering in the beginning weeks. Officials at the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) announced that the electoral monitoring body will on Monday to examine qualification of the all the registered candidates. According to the law, ECC would examine legal documents, registration materials and backgrounds of the candidates. The preliminary list of both presidential and provincial councils’ candidates will be announced on 19th of October.
The next phase of the crucial election process is vetting process of the candidates that have already registered with the Independent Election Commission. IEC officials have warned that any candidate with links to illegal militant groups or the insurgent groups will automatically be disqualified from the process. Also those who have criminal records will be barred from running in the presidential and provincial councils’ elections. The main challenge ahead of the IEC is to its job efficiently and based on the law. If the election complaints body proves its effectiveness in this stage of the election, it would strengthen its status in the wake of the presidential elections with the job to examine complaints regarding to the election process and decide on legitimacy of the process.
It is crucially important that the role and independence of the Electoral Complaints Commission should be recognized by all stakeholders of the election. The ECC should be empowered to do its monitoring job efficiently in order to have a fair and transparent election in place. Perhaps the main challenge ahead of the ECC is presence of the warlords and political figures with involvement in past wars in the election process. The ECC will inevitably face the challenge and find dealing with it very difficult since many of those candidates are high-profile political figures who have been involved in human rights violations in the past. The ECC should lead to vetting process of the presidential nominees independently and with full impartiality.
However, the Electoral Complaints Commission would be able to carry out its job well if it is empowered by the government and the government institutions particularly the president. The ECC has the opportunity to leave an appraised record in the recent history of Afghanistan with its robust vetting and monitoring process with barring human rights violators and those with links with insurgent or illegal armed groups. If perpetrators of war crimes enter the election contest, there would be no guarantee of credibility of the elections and more importantly rule of law and accountability in the process. Therefore, the ECC should be backed with sufficient political will from the government and act boldly to bar those involved in violation of human rights and past war crimes.