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For broader reforms sacking of IEC officials imperative: SERC

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Deputy Chairman of the Special Electoral Reform Commission (SERC), Sediqullah Tawhidi, said that for long-lasting and satisfactory reforms in the electoral bodies it was necessary to fire the all current members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

He stressed that removal of the current members are essential for rebuilding trust of public over the electoral system.

In an interview with Afghanistan Times, Tawhidi said that people do not trust the current members of the IEC, thus, they urged SERC to sack the IEC officials, who are accused of rigging during the 2014 presidential elections.

“Amending the election law, redefining duties and responsibilities of the electoral bodies and evaluating structure and capacity of the election commissions are top priorities of the electoral reform body,” he said.

He added that amendments in the election law would make it easy for them to dismiss the current members of the IEC.

Earlier, Shah Sultan Akifi, the Chairman of the SERC had told media that they don’t have the authority to dismiss current members of the IEC. “We are not authorized to remove commissioners. Our responsibility is to give suggestions to the Presidential Palace vis-à-vis reforms in the electoral bodies,” he said.

In the meantime, Mujib-u-Rahman Rahimi, the spokesman to Chief Executive Officer, said: “All those involved in poll rigging should be removed and there is national and international consensus over it.”

He stressed that all members of the electoral reforms commission should honestly fulfill their official duties. “They should lay down foundation of a transparent election system in Afghanistan,” TOLOnews quoted Rahimi as saying.

Jandad Spinghar, head of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), said that brining reforms in the election system is important for two reasons: the reforms will result in rebuilding of trust in the electoral system and election law will be amended.

He stressed that amendments to the election law should suggest removal of current commissioners. “Rebuilding trust in the election system is not possible without removal of the current members of the IEC,” he added.

He said that the reform body should be authorized to dismiss IEC members through amendments to the election law.

Noor Muhammad Noor, spokesman for the IEC, alleged that SERC is not authorized to bring changes, but is a commission formed by the two leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) to assess the challenges of the 2014 presidential elections and suggest reforms. “We are not against the SERC and performance of the body will be judged, once it presented its suggestions to the Presidential Palace within two or three months,” he said.

The reform body is expected to complete its assigned duty within three months. If necessary, the president has the authority to extend the time.

The reform body is not authorized to determine date of upcoming presidential elections, for only President Ashraf Ghani has the authority to announce exact date of the polls.

The reform commission is comprised of 14 members, including a representative of the United Nations.

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