Electoral reforms, or application of the 50/50 formula in electoral commissions?

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 03:36 Written by  Written by editorial board Read 56132 times

Foreigners have once again started interfering in affairs of the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC), prompting the Commission to react with its chairman blaming UNAMA and foreign embassies in addition to Afghan government officials for meddling in IEC’s affairs under the ploy of electoral reforms. As a result, the parliamentary and district council elections whose timeline has been announced by IEC may be further postponed.

The delay in the election coincides with the illegitimate year-long extension of Wolesi Jirga (WJ) granted by the government as a concession to drum up support in the parliament and evade its responsibility because the WJ’s official tenure has already expired. 

 Electoral reform is part of the US Secretary of State John Kerry-brokered agreement based on which the National Unity Government was formed against the Constitution and will of millions of Afghan voters. Now, both the government and international community are emphasizing on bringing reforms in the electoral mechanisms. The international community has even tied its financial and technical assistance to reforms in the electoral system. 

Afghans are also unanimously asking for electoral reforms, but they don’t think the division of the electoral commissions under the so called reforms is a solution. The government’s actions concerning electoral reforms indicate that they are indeed trying to divide the commissions as other government institutions under the pretext of the so called electoral reforms, and once again pave the ground for foreign interference in the electoral process.  

Except some groups, electoral reforms benefit all sides when only intended to ameliorate the electoral system, not to apply the NUG 50/50 formula to the commissions. Reforms that are only meant to install certain individuals affiliated with government will do more harm than good. 

The appointment of individuals close to the leaders of NUG and foreigners should not be justified as electoral reforms, because this will question the independence of the commissions, and facilitate fraud in the elections in lieu of preventing it. 

If the government and international community really want reform the electoral system, they must focus on the system not individuals as the new appointments cannot guarantee the transparency of elections without reforming the electoral system itself.