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Watchdog seeks changes in skeleton of electoral reforms commission

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: Afghanistan Civil Society Network for Elections (ACSEN) expressed concern over structure of the electoral reforms commission and asked the government to revise it.

Board Member of the ACSEN, Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, said that structure of the electoral reforms commission is more political than technical.

Speaking at a press conference here he said the commission should be a technical and expert commission rather than political.

The electoral reforms commission with current structure will fail to bring real reforms. Therefore, the government should revise its decision and explore better options to ensure future polls are free and fair, he added.

Naeem Asghari, another member of the organization, said that qualified people should be included in the electoral reforms commission. He said the National Unity Government leaders should not emphasize on inducting their teammates into the commission.

Regarding upcoming parliamentary polls, he said the elections should take place according to the schedule. “However, due to the existing challenges the election will not take place on due time,” he predicted.

He added that personalities in the reforms commission were not subject of their discussion but they wanted to focus on expertise and skilled people, because without these essential elements reforms would not take place. He said that hiring the commission members on political basis would make the commission and its decisions political.

Another board member of ACSEN Jandad Spinghar said that ACSEN had submitted suggestions to the government regarding induction of eligible and expert figures in the electoral reforms commission, but the request calls were ignored.

On the occasion, ACSEN also released an open letter saying that the composition of the commission listed in the decree depicts that in general the total share of the civil society in the comparison to the people representing the two teams is so small. In the members selection process the expertise and experience in election criteria has not been considered to an extent as it was expected. The contribution of specialist organizations and observatory organizations in this committee is totally ignored.

Clause number seven of this decree considers the design and recommendations of the reform commission confidential documents and approval before sharing with other civil organizations and media, where this issue could also raise concerns. Most of the activities will be carried out without public being aware of and people might lose sight of commission’s activities through civil society organizations and media, this issue could also block the constructive recommendations and proposals of the civil society in brining reforms, says the letter.

In the said decree contrary orders can also be seen, in the second clause of article six of this decree the commission is tasked to present their findings to parliament for electoral reforms purposes based on accurate assessments and reviews in two months time and on the other hand they article eight of this decree stipulates that the structure of the commission is limited and financially relies on the Internal Affairs Department. This issue could raise concerns that the commission does not have a professional support team, secretariat and might fail to deliver the desired output, said the letter.

According to the decree despite the approval authority has been given to the commission but the final approval is conditioned to presidents’ decision. This could question the independency of the said commission in leading the reform process and concerns could be raised in relation to politicization of the reform process.


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