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Insecurity, gerrymandering and maladministration to hamper parliamentary polls: FEFA

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) on Monday said that insecurity, maladministration and partiality of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) staff are main challenge before the upcoming parliamentary election.

Releasing a report, FEFA said that it has covered 125 lawmakers (50 percent representatives of all provinces) in the survey. Fifty-two percent of the respondents termed insecurity major problem for nominees, during registration and electoral campaign. Similarly, 51 percent termed partiality of the IEC’s employees as main problem.

The report said that 49 percent of the surveyed people called poor supervision of the process by electoral organs another major challenge. As much as 32 percent respondents termed interference of local powerful figures in the polling process to support specific nominees another hurdle.

The respondents stressed on reforms in the election commission, as 92 percent of the surveyed people called reforms crucial for holding free and fair elections.

Executive Chief of FEFA, Mohammad Yosuf Rasheed, said that reforms in the IEC, is the most important issue that guaranty future election and promote democracy.

Speaking at a press conference here he said that FEFA has expressed concerns over reluctance of the government to bring reforms in the IEC. He added that it has been six months since the National Unity Government has been established, but nothing has been done to overhaul the electoral body.

Criticizing skeleton of the electoral reforms commission, he said the commission is more political than technical and could not bring imperative reforms in the IEC. He stressed over change in structure of the reforms commission.

According to the report, people also seek definition of electoral crime in the Punishment Law. The respondents say that besides cash fine the violators should also be imprisoned.

FEFA also presented recommendations to the government to overcome the mentioned challenges. The suggestions included: the government must take concrete steps to bring reforms in the IEC, the electoral reforms commission shall work independently without coming under pressure, skeleton of the reforms commission had to be technical, resolute intention must be for reforms in the IEC, computerized national identity cards must be issued, voters’ list shall be prepared in timely manner, and technology must be utilized to spot fake votes in the first place.

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