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ACSEN wants its proposals on election-reforms noticed by govt

By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: The Afghanistan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN) on Tuesday while questioning the effectiveness of the proposals prepared by the Special Electoral Reforms Commission (SERC) floated its own proposals.

The Special Electoral Reforms Commission recently delivered a list of proposals to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, whereas the list has unleashed concerns among the civil society members. The network said the general masses are yet to know about the proposed reforms.

The civil society activists said the electoral reforms body should have shared the proposed reforms with the people, before submitting the list to leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) for their final decision.

Taimur Hakimyar, a senior member of the ACSEN while talking to newsmen on Tuesday said that the commission did not take the public suggestions regarding reforms in the electoral bodies into account.

He said that the network after meetings with various organizations across the country found out that the electoral reforms body didn’t take views of general masses into consideration.

Questioning the effectiveness of the proposed reforms, Hakimyar said the proposals cannot rebuild trust of the general public in the electoral system, because their suggestions for reforms have not been considered.

He said that the ACSEN has discussed the issue of electoral reforms with people from Herat, Khost, Balkh, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Kandahar, Nangarhar, and Kabul provinces and prepared a list of their suggestions. “We have submitted the proposals to the SERC to forward them to the Presidential office and the office of the Chief Executive. A parliamentarian from the western Herat province, Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, said the current election law provides space to poll rigging and impunity for those involved in it as the law doesn’t consider poll rigging as a crime. He suggested that poll rigging must be declared an offense worth penalty. He said that anybody found guilty of poll rigging must be fined therefore SERC should demand of the government to fix the problem and define rigging as a crime. He said that 22 million voting cards were distributed across the country whereas the number of legitimate voters is 12 million.

Hanafi urged the government to invalid the old voting cards and distribute the new cards among the legitimate voters.  “The 109 Article of the Constitution, restrains a President from exercising his authority to adjust the election law in towards the end of the term of the Lower House of the Parliament.

He said that towards the end of the Lower House of the Parliament, adjustment of election law is impossible therefore the proposals being submitted by SERC to the government are eleventh hour attempt and is a matter of legal debate.

“After two months of the submission of the proposals by SERC, the governments will decide on reforms in the election bodies by changing some of the articles of the election law,” he said.

The chief of SERC, Shah Sultan Hakifi, said they went to seven provinces of the country and collected viewpoints of more than 2000 people about reforms in elections.

“We are determined to include the ACSEN’s proposals in our next draft of proposal but majority of their recommendations have already been included in our first suggestion-list to the government.

He called on the government to start practical measures for implementation of the proposals.

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