Afghan Candidates Speak Out on Alleged Fraud

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With the end of the campaign and conclusion of election day, candidates for Afghanistan's parliamentary elections are stepping up their scrutiny of the country's two principal bodies responsible for overseeing the elections process, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Election Complaints Commission (ECC). As of September 26, the ECC reported having received 3,557 formal complaints at its provincial offices around the country, and many candidates and political leaders have spoken out publicly about the possibility of fraud disenfranchising their supporters and candidacies.

Former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, who did not run for a seat in parliament this year but who has sought to establish a new opposition party, the "Coalition for Change and Hope," has told TOLO TV that election fraud activities in the country's insecure provinces "were organised and were partially carried out by influential people," and warned that "the consequences of an un-transparent parliamentary election in the country will be very unpleasant for the people of Afghanistan". “If, as a result of massive fraud, it turns out to be a sort of rubber-stamp parliament in the hands of the government, then we will lose that opportunity for checks and balances which is expected from the parliament,” Abdullah told the Associated Press. Immediately after election day Abdullah and his supporters predicted large gains for the coalition in parliament, although Abdullah has backed away from specific seat gain predictions.

In Kabul Tuesday a group of independent parliamentary candidates released a manifesto and series of complaints about fraud. Seven candidates appeared at the press conference to launch the manifesto and the group claims to have more than 300 candidate signatories to the cause, although the full list was not released. The group called on the IEC not to announce any partial results until fraud investigations had taken place. It also called for electoral reforms, including hiring electoral workers from schools and universities, barring candidates from transporting voters to the polls, and barring local village maliks (administrators) from serving as observers at the polls due to their alleged connections to candidates.

The sitting Wolesi Jirga resumed sessions on Satruday, September 25, for a lame duck period, where several members of parliament called for closer scrutiny by the ECC of fraud in the election. On Monday the house agreed to a proposal by Nangahar MP Ataullah Ludin to establish a commission in parliament to monitor the work of the IEC and ECC. The Afghan Parliamentary Assistance Program reported Wednesday that Speaker Yunus Qanooni anounced that the commission would be composed of seven members who did not stand for re-election:

  • Mawlawi Ataullah Ludin (Nangarhar)
  • Sultan Mohammad Awrang (Badakhshan)
  • Habibullah Ramin (Baghlan)
  • Sayed Zaher Masroor (Balkh)
  • Ms. Sabrina Saqeb (Kabul)
  • Ms. Najiba Sharif (Kabul)
  • Mohammad Nayim Farahi (Farah)

While the counting and complaints period is likely to be equally as contentious, if not more so, than the campaign and voting period that preceded it, Democracy International principal Glenn Cowan has noted that “the number of complaints in itself is not a measure of fraud.” “Filing complaints is another way candidates and voters can participate in this process," Cowan said in a DI statement released Sunday. "What is ultimately important is how successful the IEC and ECC are in correcting for irregularities”, a process DI will continue to observe and report on through the entire electoral process.


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