Afghanistan's Elections Observational Report 2014
On April 5th and June 14th, 2014, the people of Afghanistan, as their civic duty, twice went to ballot boxes to elect a new President and members of provincial council. The 2014 election was the third presidential and provincial council election after the fall of the Taliban regime and the formation of a new government. The first round of 2014 presidential and provincial council elections was held simultaneously on April 5th throughout the country. From the eight candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah with 45% and Dr. Ashraf Ghani with 32% votes went to a run-off. Dr. Zalmai Rasool and Abdurab Alrasool Sayaaf respectively came 3rd and 4th. The massive turnout at the ballot boxes in this first round indicated that elections, as a democratic process in the country, are gradually moving towards institutionalization and that the people’s appreciation of this process has dramatically improved. With the announcement of the final result of the elections held on April 5th, it was evident that although the two leading candidates of this round, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani won significant amounts of the votes, they didn’t have the required majority to win. Therefore, they competed once again in the run-off that was held on the June 14th, 2014. The second round of elections in Afghanistan was an unprecedented event that people and responsible institutions did not have previous experience of. In the run-off, government officials and many other candidates announced their support for the two frontrunners candidates, gradually changing the dynamics of political rivalry between the two. According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, the term of office for the President is five years and for the provincial council it is four years. The provincial council elections of the years 2009 and 2014 were held together with the presidential elections; however, the one in 2006 was held with the parliamentary elections.
Afghanistan's Elections Observational Report 2014
I. Electoral reform is considered a logical effort for improving the election process. Legislators should consider the number of IEC commissioners based on specific roles and responsibilities. Suspension of commissioners, appointment of two non-voting international commissioners, more opportunities for women, emphasis on meetings open to the public, establishment of a candidate-eligibility commission, changing the election system to a mixed system, clear guidelines on monitoring of electoral processes, the authority of the chief of IEC secretariat, and clear explanation of electoral crimes, are some of the important points that should be considered while reforming election legislation. In addition, the election legislation framework for addressing the issue of candidates’ lack of trust in the electoral processes as well as boycotting the elections should be clearly defined, and the IEC should be required to report annually on its progress to parliament. Establishing provincial IECs and defining their roles and responsibilities will prevent individual decision making and increase transparency. II. The government should act on a number of important points including launching a public awareness campaign on women’s political participation through government institutions (Ministry of Hajj, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Women’s Affairs and other government media channels) with more effective tools, clear mechanisms for preventing misuse of government resources during election campaigns and subsequent punishment for violators. Providing security to candidates during election campaigns, particularly women candidates and during campaigns in remote areas, is the responsibility of the security institutions that should be seriously undertaken. 2014 Elections Observation Report. III. Preparing an election timeline with coordination of both IEC and IECC will result in timely action on relevant responsibilities. Publishing information on candidates, recruitment of female staff in cooperation with civil-society and government institutions in polling stations, publishing lists of Electoral Law violators, and maintaining an effective relationship with other stakeholders, strengthens the transparency of the election commission and increases trust in the election process. The IEC should develop a clear framework for preparing voters’ lists, and define a guideline for selecting and changing polling centers. Access of electoral observers to complete monitoring and observation of the tallying center will prevent any repeat of the issues of this election and will support the work of these centers. Accountability towards sensitive election material should be considered by IEC and clear guidelines be defined for them. IV. The international community and international observers should focus more on their cooperation with the IEC on capacity building. Consultation with national observer organizations, political parties and other stakeholders, will provide the opportunity for developing a clear plan on cooperation with electoral bodies. Support of the international community on better use of technology in various aspects of elections particularly will help the IEC in its accountability.
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