Afghan poll observer group calls for transparency in vote tallying and complaints adjudication

17 Jun 2014

Afghan poll observer group calls for transparency in vote tallying and complaints adjudication

KABUL - In the wake of last Saturday’s second round run-off in Afghanistan’s Presidential elections, one of the country’s largest election observer groups today called on the Afghan election management bodies to ensure “full transparency” in the vote-counting and complaints adjudication processes and for the two candidates to avoid prejudging the result of the poll.

At a news conference in the capital, Kabul, the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), also said that the management and administration of the election day were “successful” overall, but some “bitter experiences of the first round of election” were repeated in the run-off.

“The process of verification of the reports is ongoing and after its completion, we will share it with the electoral commissions for assessment and action,” said the FEFA Director, Nader Nadery, while releasing the observer group’s preliminary assessment on the organization of the polls, which United Nations officials have described as being critical to the country’s stability and continued international support.

Mr. Nadery added that FEFA recorded a total of 6,651 cases of irregularities on polling day, of which 3,914 cases have been “verified and documented.”

In the run-off elections, Afghan voters had a choice between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to lead the country. The two candidates emerged after the first round of the poll on 5 April, which saw no candidate gain the 50 per cent plus one of the total number of votes needed to become the President.

In a news release issued earlier this week, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had urged the Afghan electoral institutions ¬– the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – to ensure full transparency and accountability in vote tallying and the complaints adjudication process.

“The IEC and IECC now have a critical responsibility to tally the votes in a transparent and accountable manner, resolve complaints consistently and efficiently, and to transparently release the results,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš.

In the news release, Mr. Kubiš also said that both candidates and their supporters need to respect the mandate and independence of the IEC and the IECC.

Speaking at today’s news conference, Mr. Nadery said that FEFA observers reported 377 cases of underage voting, 161 cases of government officials’ interference, 114 cases of proxy voting, 99 cases of closed stations closed all day and 42 cases of ballot-stuffing from different provinces of the country.

Most of the cases were reported in the provinces of Paktya, Kandahar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Herat, Ghor, Bamyan, Takhar, Samangan, Baghlan and Badakhshan, he added.

“Our observers also reported threats which were perpetuated by the Taliban and armed insurgents as well as local commanders,” said Mr. Nadery.

According to FEFA’s assessment, 177 polling stations were closed due to security threats; most of these were located in Nangarhar, Logar, Parwan, Herat, Laghman, Kunar, Takhar, Badakhshan, Ghor, Kabul and Bamyan provinces.

The domestic observer group had deployed more than 9,000 observers across the country, covering about 70 per cent of the more than 6,000 polling centres opened on the day.

At the news conference, another FEFA official, Yousuf Rashid, said some of the problems observed in the first round and repeated in the run-off included delays in the opening of polling stations (396 cases), a shortage of electoral materials in polling stations (368 cases), complaints regarding low quality ink (269 cases) and denial of access to its observers to polling stations (176 cases).