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Polls’ schedule

After protracted delay, finally on Monday the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the Wolesi Jirga and district council elections date. Chief of the IEC Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the elections would be held on October 15 this year. However, he is concerned over the security situation in the country and asked the law enforcement agencies for cooperation to protect the IEC staffers. Nuristani also urged the government to provide the required budget. He also reiterated that the election commission would not allow any local or international organizations to interfere in the polling process. In order to do so, he sought support of the civil society activists as well.

The announcement is more than welcomed. The schedule should have been announced in October 2014 because Afghans were expecting the Wolesi Jirga polls in April 2015. The delay has tarnished image of the IEC which had been under fire since the electoral deadlock emerged in the 2014 presidential election as result of the industrial-scale fraud. If the IEC wants to repair the damage it had done and improve its reputation then it should stick to the schedule and kick off the electoral process on time. Change in the date or delay will fuel the political uncertainty. Being a legal body it is duty of the IEC to announce the date and hold the polls.

Therefore, the government shall respect mandate of the electoral commissions and allow the IEC to continue its Constitutional duty without any let or hindrance. The leaders shall provide all the required facilities including budget to the election commission. Creating problems for the commission will benefit no one. It will alienate the public further. Credibility of the current parliament is questioned. For many analysts, the decisions the Wolesi Jirga has taken are illegal because it had completed its term. Thus, public will not tolerate further delay.

However, maintaining security will be a difficult task especially when security forces are engaged in the battle against insurgents at several fronts. Armed forces are trying to eliminate Daesh in eastern Nangarhar province, defeat the Taliban in Helmand and deal with the remnants in Kunduz, Takhar and other provinces. It is not only about security of the IEC officials but of the polling stations and the voters as well. It is difficult to predict that people will throng at polling stations this October as they did in the presidential polls. Security situation was far better than now.

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