The ongoing heated discussions and allegations of fraud in Afghanistan’s recent presidential election give a sense of déjà vu to the Afghan citizens. Such was the case in the 2014 disputed and fraud-tainted election which gave birth to the National Unity Government (NUG) – a proven 50-50 futile power-sharing deal brokered by the US between the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. It’s been nearly a month after Afghans voted on Sept. 28, however, there is no word from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) when the preliminary results, previously scheduled for Oct. 19 and postponed indefinitely due to some technical problems in the process, would be announced. These inordinate postponements and allegations would take the country to the same debacle of 2014 if not handled properly by IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commissions (IECC).
To make everything further worse, fears about possible rigging are voiced at a time when there has been a break-in incident at the digital data collection facility of the IEC, prompting the authorities to put on hold the vote count process for three days. It came last week as Presidential Contender Abdullah Abdullah’s team in a press conference claimed that the lock of the digital data collection center of the IEC had been broken by special police forces and secretariat workers of the commission. The team asked for clarification about the issue. Shortly after the claim, an appointed panel was assigned to investigate how the digital data center lock was breached. The delegation on Friday introduced at least nine suspected perpetrators to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for prosecution.
At this stage, there now exists two parties on this matter of debate. One advocates that accuracy is more important than speed while the other side calls this delay a ‘deliberated plot’ to create space for rigging and push the election process into crisis. They suggest that the upshot of hastening is inaccuracy and that of delay is making room for fraud. Meanwhile, with the previous estimation of 2.6 million voter turnout, it has been now said that nearly one-quarter of the votes were tossed out as fraudulent over failures in identification procedures. According to IEC, the information of voters from all biometric devices containing 1,932,673 votes has so far been transferred to the main server, awaiting further process and clarification – something that will reduce the number even more. At this juncture, the best policy for the IEC to adopt is to lead the vote tallying and screening process without pressure and interference, as well as take great pains in order to announce such results that are acceptable to all. On the part of the presidential hopefuls, they should exercise restraint and await the official announcement of results. They mustn’t prematurely instill worries in people’s minds and thus make way for a post-election crisis. Furthermore, the IEC should beware of certain vicious circles who are in favor of confronting the country with troubles and are out to create problems for the electoral body.