The voter registration process for parliamentary and district council election officially kicked off on Saturday. The voters, according to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), will be registered in two phases: first in provincial capitals and then in districts. The launch of voter registration process by the National Unity Government (NUG) as the first practical step towards election is laudable, yet it cannot guarantee that the government will really carry out the election, because there are still numerous challenges to the poll, which should be addressed.
The political opposition still harbors skepticism about the government’s will with regard to election. Because of the government’s deceptive actions in connection with election over the last three years, there are still concerns whether or not the election will be conducted on the date the IEC announced for the last time. The parliamentary and district council election is scheduled on a date that even a minor problem in preparation for the election can postpone the process for a few more months.
Moreover, the transparency and inclusiveness of election remain to be a major challenge. The government doesn’t have control over more than half of the country, and even areas considered to be under the sway of government forces are faced with high security threats. The turnout in parliamentary and district council election is expected to be extremely low due to a lack of trust in the transparency of election as well as fears of militant attacks, something that can markedly undermine the legitimacy of the election. There are also concerns that the government wants to make the parliamentary and district council election controversial in a bid to pave the way for the deferral of presidential election in the pretext of transparency.
The government’s political will is key to election, the lack of which makes it difficult to have election even if other requirements are fulfilled. Even if election happens under such circumstance, there is no guarantee of it being transparent -- a measure based on which the result of election will not represent the will of the people if not observed.
The National Unity Government, which has failed to keep its promises in several areas including the distribution of electronic national identity cards and electoral reform, should conduct the election at least to preserve this democratic practice. Since there is no trust in the government that it will not interfere in election, the people should try their best to prevent fraud while also widely participating in the election.