FEFA Encourages Voting, Urges Election Complaints Body to Enforce Laws
Kabul, 16 September, 2010– Afghanistan’s electoral complaints commission must decisively adjudicate all complaints submitted after Saturday’s parliamentary elections, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said Thursday. Between July 15 and August 25, FEFA’s observers across Afghanistan submitted 583 reports of electoral violations, including government officials unlawfully supporting candidates, candidates using state resources in their campaigns, and uniformed security officers participating in campaigns. “We are disappointed because we saw very little action from the ECC [Electoral Complaints Commission] during the campaigns. Few candidates were sanctioned for electoral offenses, and the candidates the commission did sanction were not the most serious offenders,” said FEFA executive director Jandad Spinghar. “The ECC must be ready to seriously tackle complaints after Election Day.” In its second campaign period report, due to be released Friday, FEFA detailed high levels of election-related intimidation and violence, including nearly 200 acts of intimidation reported by its observers between the middle of July and end of August. Even formerly secure provinces experienced systematic efforts by insurgents and powerbrokers to frighten candidates, campaign staff and voters. Observers in Nangarhar reported that Taliban distributed night letters threatening to kill candidates, instructing shopkeepers not to display campaign materials and warning residents not to vote. Powerbrokers seeking to gain seats in parliament for themselves and their allies issued threats of their own. In one case highlighted by observers, a prominent former commander in Kabul’s Paghman district used his bodyguards to prevent rivals from campaigning there. According to another report, a powerbroker in Farah warned residents that they would face violence on the roads if they did not vote for the candidate of his choosing.
“Intimidation carried out by candidates, some of them individuals who served in the last parliament, is unacceptable,” Spinghar said. “It is also a consequence of a failed vetting process and policy-makers’ lack of commitment to transitional justice over the past nine years.” Of the 61 reports of Election-related violence FEFA received during the campaigns, 49 targeted candidates and campaign staff. Most attacks were carried out by the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Three candidates and at least 11 campaigners were killed over the summer. Though women comprise less than one quarter of all candidates, 6 of the 11 slain campaigners worked for female candidates. Many of the victims were repeatedly threatened in the weeks preceding their deaths. “The security forces must do more to protect vulnerable and threatened individuals during future elections,” said Spinghar. Polls will open nationwide early Saturday morning, and voters will choose their next 249-member parliament from among nearly 2,500 candidates. FEFA will have approximately 7,000 observers at polling centers in all provinces of the country on Election Day. FEFA chairman Nader Nadery expressed his organization’s hope that voters would be undeterred by the challenges his organization recorded during the campaigns. “We encourage voters to exercise their political rights, and our observers will be there to watch whether they can do so freely,”
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