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The Electoral Complaints Commission will propose a package of recommendations to bring positive chan
Published on 28 Oct 2010 at 03:30
Interviewer: Zahir Eztarabi
An interview with Ahmad Zia Rafhat, spokesperson for the Electoral Complaints Commission
Q: According to the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), 1797 out of 5967 complaints have been adjudicated so far. Will the ECC be able to adjudicate the remaining complaints before the declaration of final results?
A: The ECC has divided all the complaints into three categories. Complaints in the first category are those serious enough to affect the final results if proven; the second and third categories are not. So the ECC will adjudicate the remaining complaints after the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IEC) declares the final results.
In contrast to previous elections, all the ECC’s provincial offices are given the authority to adjudicate their constituency-related complaints. Their complaints will be referred to the ECC’s main office if those who made the complaint do not accept the decisions of the provincial offices.
Q: Which type of punishments will be imposed on the perpetrators of high-level fraud?
A: It depends on the level of fraud and/or the type of violation they have committed. For instance, there will be cash penalties, the annulling of votes of polling centers where fraud was perpetrated, the annulling of votes for a candidate in the entire election constituency, the barring of a candidate from a seat in Parliament, up to the introduction of a candidate to the judiciary.
Q: How many fraud perpetrators have been introduced to the judiciary so far? And how will the ECC follow the course of the judiciary’s actions?
A: The ECC only introduces perpetrators to the judiciary; it is not up to the ECC to follow its actions. Some Afghan government officials have been accused of using government facilities in favor of some candidates and they will be introduced to the judiciary if such allegations are proven. No one has yet been referred to the judiciary.
Q: Compared to last year’s presidential and provincial council elections, how was the level of fraud in the September 18 Parliamentary elections?
A: It is too early to comment in this regard. It will be obvious after the ECC finishes the investigation process.
Q: The IEC has annulled more than one million ballot papers from 2543 polling centers. Will the staff of these polling centers be punished?
A: The IEC introduces perpetrators to the ECC depending on the situation and level of violations and fraud. The ECC is waiting for the IEC to introduce the perpetrators.
Q: According to the ECC, 224 candidates in the Parliamentary elections are accused of fraud. How many of them are the winners in the elections?
A: Some of them are on the winners’ list but the ECC cannot comment till the end of the investigation process.
Q: According to analysts and observers, the government is accused of supporting some candidates loyal to President Hamid Karzai. What is your opinion?
A: I acknowledge that some of the candidates were politically and financially supported by government officials during elections, and the ECC has received complaints in this regard. The ECC will take strict measures against them after the investigation, even if they have won.
Q: A number of successful candidates in the list of preliminary results were disqualified. Do you think that the ECC left this measure a bit late?
A: The ECC is bound to adjudicate complaints whenever it receives them. You know that many candidates were disqualified because they did not resign in time from their government posts, or because they spent too much money on their election campaigns.
These candidates had not disclosed clear information about their government positions during the registration process, so they paid the price for their own mistakes.
Q: The ECC has ended the period for receiving complaints. What will happen if something emerges in the hours before the declaration of final results?
A: This would be an exceptional case.
Q: Which kinds of mechanisms can prevent fraud in future elections?
A: We have learned from experience and will learn more. The ECC will propose a package of consensus recommendations to the government to bring some positive changes in the election law after declaration of final results.
Q: The Afghan people still use traditional “paper-based” identity cards; while analysts believe that absence of electronic identity cards, as well as ambiguity regarding the size of the population pave the way for fraud in elections. What is your opinion?
A: The existence of precise statistics is one of the main prerequisites for any action. No doubt it will be vital for elections if the government could provide precise statistics in future.
Q: Will democracy be institutionalized in Afghanistan with these types of elections?
A: People take steps forward towards democracy with each election. However, it is impossible to conduct elections as properly as necessary in the current situation in Afghanistan. But I am sure that the nature of elections can enhance institutionalization of democracy in Afghanistan.
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