October 8, 2017
The Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) held the fourth coordination meeting with representatives of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC), the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Ministry of Women Affairs, The Election Watch Organization and FETWA.
At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Mohammad Naeem Asghari, programs manager of FEFA explained the meeting agenda and requested participants of the meeting to present information about their working programs. Then, Mr. Abdul Badi Sayyad, member and spokesperson of IEC provided information about IEC performance and programs. He said IEC has done the following works so far:
- Strengthening coordination and cooperation with the election observation organizations and signing MoU with these organizations;
- Working on electoral constituencies;
- Announcing and sharing the date for parliamentary election with the election observation organizations;
- Working on verification of polling centers and sharing the setting time for sharing the list with the election relevant organizations;
- Providing satisfactory replies to the demand of political groups;
- Providing facilities for preparation of voters list and determining the kind of cooperation with the E-Tazkira Issuance Office and Ministry of Education;
- Taking measures to employ permanent staff including heads of provincial offices;
Mr. Sayyad admired and thanked FEFA for the efforts it made toward creating coordination among electoral institutions and talked about bellow issues:
- The IEC is committed to work closely with the election observation organizations. The IEC is intended to sign a MoU with the election observation organizations within this month to bolster cooperation with them.
- Making decision about the electoral constituencies is the authority of cabinet and implementing this decision is duty of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. Pursuant to article 2nd of the legislative decree on election, the IEC prepared a report on delimitation of electoral constituencies in coordination with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, Central Statistics Organization and Civil Status Authority and sent to government months ago but the government hasn’t made any decision regarding the report.
- Pursuant to the law, the IEC declared the date for election 120 days prior to the polling day.
- The IEC staff work on data collected about the polling centers and have inserted the data of 5 provinces (Herat, Badghis, Nimroz, and Samangan) into the data base. The data indicate some polling centers have been removed, replaced or added in these provinces. The IEC has ordered its secretariat to insert the data of all provinces into the database and clarify the reasons for the removal, replacement or addition of some polling centers. The final results of this process will be shared with the election organizations and public within 20 days.
- There is a clear plan and procedure on preparation of voters list. Given the procedure, there are 14 documents which are used to identify the voters. These documents begin from national ID card and ends to the previous voting cards.
- The IEC request the political parties and coalition of political parties to share their proposals on betterment of electoral stages with the IEC otherwise stop intervention in IEC’s affairs. They are also requested to help the IEC in administering election.
- The procurement process of preparation of voters list will begin next week and we request the E-Tazkira Issuance Bureau to help us in providing the soft-wares needed for preparation voters list.
- Pursuant to the provision of the law on election, it is the authority of the Independent Civil Services Commission to employ permanent electoral staff and the IEC has not employed any permanent staff yet. We request the Civil Services Commission to perform its duty in this regard.
Subsequently, the executive director of FEFA thanked Mr. Sayyad for providing adequate information about IEC’s programs and expressed his concern over use of previous voting cards (which were issued in previous elections without registration in a database) in preparing voters list.
He said, “The number of voting cards issued in previous elections is more than the number of eligible voters so feigning through those cards is easy. Therefore, these cards can’t help in identifying the identity of eligible voters. IEC is recommend to revise its decision in this regard and consult with civil society organizations and political parties to come up with an inclusive option. He also talked about employment of electoral staff and the meeting he had with the chair of the Independent Civil Services Commission in this regard and said, “The Independent Administrative Reform & Civil Services Commission has recently sent separate letters to the electoral commissions and delegated the authority of electoral staff recruitment to them. However, the representative of the Independent Administrative Reform & Civil Services Commission will supervise/monitor every stage of recruitment.”
Subsequently, Mr. Mohammad Nazari, head of information and public relation department of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) talked about destiny of head of secretariat of the commission, employment of provincial commissioners, coordination with the IEC in preparing voters list, challenges before the IECC and measures taken to develop a judicial and justice mechanism on handling the electoral crimes and said, “Pursuant to the law on election, the IEC announced the post of head of secretariat, took test from eligible candidates and introduced 3 qualified candidates to the president to select one of them as the head of secretariat of the IEC but in- contradiction to the law, government requested list of 3 other candidates as well. Then, the IECC sent the list of 3 other candidates but none of the introduced candidates has been appointed as head of secretariat of the IECC yet. He added that the IEC announced 102 vacant positions of provincial commissioners and collected applications of 6000 applicants the qualified ones of whom will get shortlisted and appoint as provincial commissioners in a transparent process within next month. He added the IECC has held 6 coordination meetings with IEC about procurement of necessary goods for preparation of voters list and the head of secretariat of both commissions are in contact in this regard.
He also said, “Addressing the concerns of political parties on electoral issues is necessary. Therefore, the IECC met with leaders of some political parties.” He declared shortage of IECC budget as a major concern and emphasized on determination of electoral crimes and their punishment in the election law.
Subsequently, Mrs. Sheela Saba-representative of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance talked about the number of official districts, legal and administrative destiny of unofficial districts in parliamentary and district council election and the need for creating new electoral constituencies in 12 provinces.
“Totally, there are 363 official and 21 unofficial district and 45538 villages. Among 363 districts 66 of them are first degree districts, 177 second degree districts and 120 second degree districts. The official districts do not have any problems and their borders are determined but the unofficial districts have structure but are not approved by the National Assembly.” She declared delimitation of electoral constituencies is the duty of IEC and in case the IEC decides to delimitate the electoral constituencies, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance is ready to implement the decision given the election law.” She said.
Then, Abdul Khaliq Azimi-representative of Central Statistics Organization briefed about his organizations cooperation with IEC and said, “The Central Statistics Organization received an official letter from regional operation department of IEC regarding the population and number of citizens who are eligible of voting and then the Central Statistics Organizations send the statistics of population and citizens who are eligible of voting. Pursuant the statistics, Afghanistan has a population of 29724323 people among whom 14315663 (657155 women, 722170 men and 722438 nomads) people are eligible of voting.” He added the border problem of official districts have been solved in coordination with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, Civil Status Registration Authority and the map of borders of all districts have been sent to the IEC through a CD.
Mrs. Parween Sadeqqi who was representing Ministry of Women Affairs in this meeting talked about her ministerial strategic plan on increasing women turnout in election and said, “The Ministry of Women Affairs has practically began giving awareness about election and women political participation to women and support women who are intended to run for upcoming parliamentary election.” She also said Ministry of Women Affairs has created symposium, printed out posters and hold TV and radio debates about women participation in election. She added Ministry of Women Affairs is intended to create mobile teams to give awareness in this regard to women.
At the end of the meeting, Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed- executive director of FEFA admired and appreciated participants of the meeting for the information they provided and expressed and shared his concern over use of previous voting cards in preparation of voters list with Mr. Sayad and said, “The number of voting cards issued in previous elections is more than the number of eligible voters so feigning through those cards is easy. Therefore, these cards can’t help in identifying the identity of eligible voters. IEC is recommend to revise its decision in this regard and consult with civil society organizations and political parties to come up with an inclusive option.”