Against a backdrop of inordinate delays in the tallying process on the part of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), it has set back the announcement of presidential poll result for a second time. Citing candidate complaints and tensions, the electoral management body also stopped the audit and recount of votes in all provinces. With the preliminary result being long overdue now as it was initially scheduled for Oct. 19, the criticism directed towards IEC, and the subsequent controversies, is snowballing out of control.
As the electoral body proceeded without the consent of all electoral stakeholders, particularly candidates, the crisis which has emerged needs some immediate steps to be resolved. A case in point of the current disorder is the IEC’s offices being shut down by supporters of protesting candidates, who opposed the vote recount process. As such actions are clear violations, brazen disregard for the election process and aren’t in the national interests, they should be brought to a halt. It’s because they disturb the whole democratic exercise and badly damage the public opinion concerning its transparency. Meanwhile, regarding the complaints and issues of the candidates, there is a legal platform for them which are the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC). These candidates should rather be a model of exemplary statesmanship and leadership and not a cause for the disorder. However, as the recount process has been stopped now, there a few important matters the IEC should consider to move forward and avert a full-blown crisis and further gradual degeneration of the status quo.
Given the recent difficulties and postponements, the IEC has been slowly losing its credible status and the current state of affairs warrants remedial steps to be taken by the body to address these issues. Thus, IEC should make all-out efforts to resolve the complaints of the presidential candidates by holding a discussion with them, the IECC, other electoral watchdogs, a third-party mediator, as well as observers and media. By doing such, it would be able to receive a go-ahead gesture to resume the recount process by employing a transparent mechanism. This approach will, in turn, lead to having the consent of all the candidates, who would put an end to their boycott. Meanwhile, the IEC should seek the technical consultation of the international community, UNAMA, EU and other experienced organizations in order to successfully deal with the situation. The people of Afghanistan will certainly not accept 2014-like, 50-50 power sharing deal among the frontrunners. Therefore, solutions should be sought at once in order to instate a powerful dispensation with a strong mandate which is not marred by criticisms of fraud. Only then, Afghanistan would be able to extricate itself from the ongoing mire, achieve long-lasting peace and move towards national development.