The nation wants electoral reforms, not a reshuffle of election officials

Monday, 26 September 2016 03:32 Written by  Heart of asia Read 148 times

The reform of electoral system is the demand of all the people of Afghanistan. No Afghan, who believes and is really willing to choose his/her leader through ballots instead of bullets, opposes electoral reform because it is undoubtedly a key necessity which was further bolstered during the previous presidential elections. Following the 2014 run-off presidential race, both teams accused each other of electoral fraud, who, after months of bickering over the results of the elections, concluded that the problem lied in the flawed electoral system.


The election system certainly has deficiencies as also acknowledged by all actors involved in Afghan politics. The several rounds of presidential, parliamentary and provincial council elections well exposed these shortcomings, whose remedy is the only way to restore the lost trust in the democratic process of voting, and persuade the people to partake in the upcoming elections.
Afghans will welcome electoral reforms only when the election system is fixed. So far, all government efforts thereof have been mostly focused on the reshuffle of election officials other than correcting the system.
In a recent development, President Ashraf Ghani, on advice from the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution (ICOIC) no to send the Election Law to the Parliament, signed into law the controversial draft which was rejected several times by Wolesi Jirga. Some lawyers have described this move as unconstitutional because it was made based on the ICOIC’s interpretation of the Constitution, while it is beyond its scope of authority.

President Ghani’s endorsement of the Election Law is mostly viewed as the beginning of electoral reforms; however, there are many questions and concerns about the process. The government’s stance on electoral reforms seems to be focusing on the reshuffle of the election commissions instead of ameliorating the system, despite the fact that election officials are not the main problem. It is the flaws in the electoral system that offer individuals the grounds to influence the process. Howsoever individuals try to meddle in election affairs, they will fail if an efficient and flawless electoral system is in place. Also, if there is a defective election system, everyone from electoral teams, the candidates and their supporters to the election staff can influence the poll.
Now that the National Unity Government (NUG) has just embarked on the process of electoral reforms, its leaders should know that the people of Afghanistan only want and support the reform of electoral system, not the replacement of incumbent election officials. If the government really wishes not to have the bitter experience of the past repeated, it will be good to prioritize and focus on the reform of election system in lieu of dividing the election commissions.