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Presidential elections likely delayed to allow for reforms

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Afghanistan’s presidential elections scheduled for April next year may have to be pushed back for another few months, the election commission said on Wednesday citing organizational reforms.

In spite of government and poll panel’s constant emphasis to hold “timely” presidential elections on its stipulated date, April 2019, the Independent Election Commission declared a possible postponement to allow for further administrative and organizational reforms.

“We might hold the elections with delay in bid to bring further reforms and to gear up for more transparency in the polls,” said Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, deputy spokesman at the Independent Election Commission.

Ibrahimi asserted that a possible postponement of elections was partly to cave for demands of some political parties, international partners and the government itself to hold elections devoid of mismanagement and the past faux pas.

“Lessons learnt. We have learnt lessons from the past parliamentary elections and we must bring further reforms in the structure, voter lists, biometric system as well as staff awareness,” he said.

Reports suggest that elections might be held with two or three months’ delay.

Likewise, the parliamentary elections had been delayed for three years to bring reforms in electoral bodies – and finally held in October 2018. Nevertheless, the elections were marred by rigging and ballot stuffing, prompting widespread criticism and indignation of voters, parties and candidates nationwide.

The entire process of parliamentary polls was mishandled, so was the announcement of results which had to be postponed due to a pyramid of complaints – with results of three provinces including Kabul still unclear due to an ongoing recount and other issues.

Fraud and vote rigging in 2014 presidential elections and 2018 parliamentary elections created a trust deficit and stymied the reputation and credibility of the election panels and the entire democratic process. The nation is expecting genuine reforms in electoral bodies to witness a free, fair and nationwide presidential election.

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