IEC Chief Blasts Political Parties Over Closure Of IEC Offices

Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayyad head of Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday criticized political parties for closing IEC offices in parts of the country and called on these parties to bring an end to the practice. 

Sayyad called on the coalition of political parties to instead share their list of demands with the commission so that a legal solution can be sought.  

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Sayyad said political parties and observer institutions are not attending IEC meetings nor are they cooperating with the commission – yet they constantly level criticism at the IEC. 

“The culture of closing offices must end, and those who are closing offices in the centers and then in the provinces will be responsible for delaying the elections, they do not want to hold elections on time,” said Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayyad IEC chief. 

“We request all of them to share their legal demands in the framework of the law with the commission and to find a legal solution for their concerns regarding the transparency of the elections,” Sayyad added. 

The IEC chief said that in the event of the elections being delayed the commission will not be responsible. 

“And those who are closing the offices, they will be responsible for a delay in the elections,” said Sayyad. 

The commission said that the closing of offices is not acceptable for the commission. 

“Closing of IEC offices in such a sensitive time means the delay of elections which is not acceptable for the commission,” Sayyad said. 

This comes after a number of major political parties closed the offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Balkh, Kandahar and Herat provinces on Saturday over demands for a transparent election and a change in the electoral system. 

The political parties that operate under the Grand National Coalition have threatened to also close IEC offices in Nangarhar, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Panjsher, Faryab and Jawzjan provinces if their demands are not met.

Supporters of the coalition established sit-in camps near the IEC office in Balkh on Saturday morning, insisting the demands of the political parties be met, including the use of a biometric system for elections, a change in election system and transparent polls across the country.

The political parties have set deadlines for government a few times for their demands to be addressed. 

On August 10, these parties set a 10-day deadline for a response from government to meet their demands on a change in the country’s election system and ensure that a biometric system is used on the day of voting.  

The parties include the Council for the Protection and Stability in Afghanistan, Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, Hizb-e Wahdat Islami Mardum-e Afghanistan and some political movements including Mehwar-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan.

Sayyad stated more support from government, watchdog organizations and political parties was needed. 

Observer institutions and political parties are not backing the IEC commission, instead of cooperating with IEC they choose to criticize and the government also not taking serious steps on time,” Sayyad said

“We ask for serious steps in order to hold elections on time,” Sayyad added. 

Last month, President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree on elections to prevent any interference in the election process and to ensure the process is held in a safe and transparent environment.

IEC Chief Sayyad meanwhile also raised his concern over security around parliamentary election candidates.

“The security of the candidates is very important for us and the government must pay serious attention to their security,” Sayyad said. 

“We also ask international forces to cooperate with our security forces regarding the transfer of sensitive and non-sensitive materials in order to deliver them to the election centers on time,” Sayyad said.

Meanwhile IEC chief Sayyad said that the commission is committed to holding elections on time.

“The commission is trying day and night to hold elections on time and we ask the nation to support the commission,” Sayyad said. 

Sayyad also said IEC staff who are involved in fraud and violations of elections will be handed over to the law.

“We are committed, and we are investigating if any of our staff are involved in any type of fraud or violation (and if so they will) soon will be introduce  to the attorney general’s office.” Sayyad said. 

According to the Independent Election Commission, over nine million voters have registered their names for the upcoming elections.

At the end of the conference the IEC chief said that so far the commission has entered details of eight millions voters into the data base – 1,072 million are stilled to be entered into the system. 

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