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Editorial: Electoral reforms

Since establishment of the National Unity Government in 2014, electoral reforms have become a hot potato. People from every walk of life are debating on the nature, scope and timeline of the reforms. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) proved as rubber stamp institutes in the previous presidential election. The IEC was afraid of announcing the final results while the IECC was slow in addressing the complaints. The two bodies failed to perform their constitutional duties effectively. Industrial-scale rigging in the polls raised many questions on authorities of the election commissioners and effectiveness of the two electoral bodies.

Both IEC and IECC are autonomous bodies. They enjoy great power. However, they failed to respect the public consent by delaying the results and making the polling process fair and transparent. Massive rigging and electoral deadlock are stains on the country’s democracy. The stain got bigger with the passage of time. Now Afghans have a US-brokered government and parliament which has completed its term. Scores of provinces and departments are run by acting chiefs and governors. Some positions were created illegally to accommodate people in the system. The people have accepted the unity government, delay in the Wolesi Jirga polls and acting governors willy-nilly. It seems that the country is ruled by certain people rather than the Constitution and laws.

Further delay in the parliamentary and district councils polls will create serious issues in the country as patience of public had reached the boiling point. They have also lost trust over the current government and the electoral bodies because their mandate was not respected. If the IEC had respected public decision in the first place, the country would not have faced political crisis. Therefore, electoral reforms are need of the hour. Sooner the government overhauls the electoral bodies is better. The government had not realized the line between the fantasies and the realities. Many decisions taken by the government were in contradiction with the constitution. That’s why the Wolesi Jirga had rejected record presidential decrees.

On Sunday the Presidential Palace hinted to set the date for parliamentary election before the Brussels summit.  According to Dawa Khan Minapal, President’s deputy spokesman, the government had finalized a legislative decree to introduce electoral reforms. He said the unity government leaders will talk about the polls and reforms in the summit. It is wondering that the leaders would discuss the reforms and elections with foreigners rather than Afghans. Why the government is not assuring the public that their aspirations and demands would be respected?

The NUG will not be able to hold elections unless it addresses the issues hampering roll out process of the electronic national identification cards (e-Tazkira). The senators have also warned the government of protests if the leaders failed to include word ‘Afghan’ in the computerized ID cards.

Presidential Palace shall resolve these problems before giving any hope to the nation.

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