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‘IECC under immense political pressures’

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KABUL: A Kabul-based electoral watchdog on Friday voiced grave concern over its recent findings suggesting that the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC)’s affairs were stymied by immense political pressures from election stakeholders.

Ahmad Zubair Habibzada, spokesperson for the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), said these undue pressures and influences came from parties involved in the election process, but he did not elaborate further in this regard.

He said these pressures had heightened apprehensions about a political agreement among the leading candidates for the presidency.

“The electoral stakeholders are trying to benefit from the election. When we say that there is pressure on the commission from some quarters, we mean they are striving to realize their wishes and interests out of the process. We are worried that the overall election process might come under undue pressures and the fate of Afghanistan will be shaped by a political deal and not people’s votes yet again.”

On the other hand, Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) said although there were no evidence to substantiate these pressures, the watchdog was somehow concerned about the possibility of the IECC being pressured.

Yousuf Rasheed, head of FEFA, said: “You can see that the two front-running teams that claim victory in the election challenge the commission that if its decision was in their favor and in accordance to their wishes, they would accept the outcome but if it wasn’t, they would repudiate the final results to be announced by the electoral body. This is itself a kind of pressure and is something that partially undermines independence.”

However, the IECC brushed off the claims of political pressures effected on the commission.

Qutbuddin Roydad, an IECC commissioner, said: “We have never witnessed any political pressure, from any side or political persons. We do our work independently and we will continue to do so.”

These remarks come as the presidential election was conducted four months back but the Afghan people are still awaiting the final results’ announcement.

The IECC has assured of announcing its final decision on objection appeals by next week.

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