In the wake of nearly more than two months of deadlock in terms of inordinately delaying the preliminary results of September 28th’s presidential election, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has been finally allowed to continue its vote recount and audit in the remaining seven provinces. The Stability and Partnership team led by CEO Abdullah Abdullah has called on its supporters to let the IEC complete the vote recount and audit process in Jawzajan, Faryab, Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Sar-i-Pul and Panjsher provinces. Backers of some of the presidential contenders along with Abdullah’s have so far opposed the tallying and recount process while demanding the invalidation of 300,000 alleged fraudulent ballots. Interestingly, this comes as the IEC head a day earlier had demanded permission for the recount and audit of votes in the seven provinces and warned the commission’s independence would be undermined if it wasn’t allowed to continue its work. Calling the decision a ‘goodwill’ gesture, the CEO warned: “We will never accept preliminary or final results that are fraudulent,” asking his supporters to allow the vote recount process. Abdullah’s decision to allow the recount and audit of votes in seven provinces follows two unsuccessful grand meetings of IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) aimed at exploring ways to resolve the long-running electoral issues and differences.
The results are long-overdue now which were initially scheduled to be announced by October 19, but the date was pushed to November 14; however, that deadline was also missed. No new date has been set yet. Meanwhile, the IEC promised to announce the preliminary results within the next three days. Now that a huge hurdle from the path of the electoral management bodies has been cleared and lifted, they should get back to work and put Afghans out of their misery and anxiety about results. Moreover, the wary presidential runners should now dispatch their observers to attend the resumed vote recount and audit process. However, they should do so in line with the electoral laws and procedures and shouldn’t interfere or pose problems in this regard, thereby allowing the electoral commission to carry out its tasks independently. If there are any objections and the potential threat of fraud or violations being committed by the election stakeholders along the way, the discontented quarters should seek legal ways – such as referring to IECC – for tackling and investigating such complaints and issues. Meanwhile, the presidential candidates and political elite should also play their role in exercising gracefulness and salvaging the country’s situation from further degenerating into difficulties and chaos.