Published on 31 May 2012 at 10:02
Afghanistan is struggling not only with a difficult security situation but also with a high level of political corruption. As a result, a group of informed Afghans was gathered in early 2011 to review the existing laws and regulations and the experiences and previous recommendations on political finance reform.
The purpose of the review was to develop a coherent set of recommendations for enhanced political finance transparency in Afghanistan, drawing on international experiences and a large range of stakeholders.
The working group consisted of individuals from different institutions such as the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Ministry of Finance, High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, National Assembly, civil society and the media. Each person has participated as an individual rather than as a representative of her or his institution.
The following is a brief review of the working group’s final recommendations, broken down as recommendations for “campaign finance” and “political party finance”.
For the full report titled “Recommendations for Political Finance Reform in Afghanistan,” click here:
Recommendations for legal reform
1. Clarify the mandate of key institutions and increase requirements for transparency
The Electoral Law does not give any institution a mandate to oversee campaign finance. Such a mandate should be given to the IEC.
2. Introduce limits for campaign contributions and spending
Contribution and spending limits are needed to reduce the advantage of the rich.
3. Sanctions for campaign finance violations should be applied by a permanent Election Complaints Commission (ECC)
Electoral complaints in Afghanistan are heard by the ECC, but it is not permanent
4. Make certification of successful candidates and the return of candidacy deposits conditional on the submission of financial reports
To increase compliance, no one should be made a candidate or legislator/President without submitting financial reports.
5. The candidacy deposit should be waived for women candidates
To increase the participation of women, they should pay no deposits.
6. Ban activities that can amount to indirect vote buying
Candidates should not be allowed to renovate mosques or support charities
7. Require campaign contributions and expenses to go through an identified campaign bank account
All candidates should have to use a particular campaign bank account
8. Require contributors to submit reports to the IEC
Also those who donate money should report this to the IEC.
9. Limit advertising purchasing and size of advertising materials
To make the system more fair, limit time and size of bought advertising.
10. Create a permanent IEC unit to oversee campaign finance
A permanent unit should work exclusively with this issue.
11. The IEC should emphasize openness and transparency in all its campaign finance activities
The IEC should be open to all stakeholders.
12. A network of stakeholders should exercise control and increase awareness about campaign finance
Media and civil society must play an active role.
13. International actors should support efforts to introduce reform and increase public awareness about money in Afghan politics
International actors should facilitate learning and experience sharing.
POLITICAL PARTY FINANCE
Recommendations for legal reform
14. Give authority to oversee political party finance to the IEC
Currently the mandate for overseeing political party finance is very unclear.
15. Increase financial accountability among political party leadership
Party leaders should be responsible for the activities of their parties.
16. Non-financial assistance to political parties from international organizations should be allowed
Only trainings etc should be permitted, all other international assistance to be banned.
17. There should be a limit to contribution from natural persons to political parties
There is currently no contribution limit
18. Political parties must present annual financial reports or face sanctions
The rules for financial reporting by parties are very unclear.
19. Remove fees for registering a political party but impose stricter sanctions for parties that do not renew their license on time
This will make it easier for well-organised parties to function.
20. Political Parties should be provided with public funds, but only when mechanisms for transparency are in place
Transparency must be in place before public funding is introduced.
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- NATO and Afghanistan - NATO HQ (press release)
- US, Taliban to meet in Qatar for 'key milestone' toward ending Afghanistan war - NBCNews.com (blog)
- Barack Obama has given the Taliban the upper hand in Afghanistan - Telegraph.co.uk