Afghan elec­tion bod­ies at log­ger­heads over vote in cap­i­tal

The Jerusalem Post - - REGIONAL NEWS -

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s top elec­tion author­ity on Thurs­day re­jected a rul­ing by the Elec­toral Com­plaints Com­mis­sion that fraud and mis­man­age­ment had ren­dered in­valid the votes cast in Kabul, the cap­i­tal, dur­ing last Oc­to­ber’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

The stand­off be­tween the two bod­ies charged with or­ga­niz­ing and man­ag­ing the elec­tion high­lighted the chaos around a bal­lot seen as a ma­jor test of Afghanistan’s demo­cratic progress that had been heav­ily pushed by in­ter­na­tional part­ners.

“The rul­ing by the com­plaints com­mis­sion is a po­lit­i­cal, sen­ti­men­tal, un­re­al­is­tic de­ci­sion and is not based on cred­i­ble ev­i­dence,” Gu­la­jan Ab­dul Badi Sayyad, the chair­man of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, told a news con­fer­ence.

“We strongly re­ject the rul­ing by the com­plaints com­mis­sion.”

The bal­lot, held on Oc­to­ber 20 after months of wran­gling and de­lay, was marred by ac­cu­sa­tions of voter fraud, tech­ni­cal prob­lems with bio­met­ric voter ver­i­fi­ca­tion gear and in­ac­cu­rate voter lists.

“There were se­ri­ous out­stand­ing prob­lems in Kabul that could hurt the fair­ness, trans­parency and in­clu­sive­ness of the elec­tion,” Ali Reza Ro­hani, a spokesman for the Elec­toral Com­plaints Com­mis­sion, said on Thurs­day.

With more than a mil­lion votes recorded in Kabul, or about a quar­ter of the na­tion­wide tally of roughly four mil­lion, can­cel­ing the vote there would call into ques­tion the va­lid­ity of the whole elec­tion.

The rec­om­men­da­tion to can­cel the vote in Kabul also fu­els un­cer­tainty over the April 20 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which elec­tion author­i­ties have said they are con­sid­er­ing post­pon­ing un­til July, due to or­ga­ni­za­tional dif­fi­cul­ties.

Any de­lay to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could af­fect hoped-for peace talks with Tal­iban in­sur­gents, who have opened con­tacts with the United States but have so far re­fused to talk to the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani.

Author­i­ties have still not re­leased com­plete re­sults from the Oc­to­ber 20 par­lia­men­tary bal­lot, dogged by de­lays that pushed vot­ing into the fol­low­ing day.


AFGHAN MEN line up to cast their votes dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion at a polling sta­tion in Kabul in Oc­to­ber.

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