Electoral Complaints Commission reaches out to the provinces

16 Jun 2009

Electoral Complaints Commission reaches out to the provinces

16 June 2009 - More than one hundred and seventy complaints officers are moving out to the provinces for the forthcoming elections in Afghanistan.


The Electoral Complaints Commission has completed a training programme for 176 provincial complaints officers who will move into the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and start the process of receiving, reviewing and deciding on complaints.

On 16 June the official campaign period for the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan began.

During the campaigning the electorate and candidates are allowed to launch complaints on a number of issues.

In the next two weeks the commission aims to establish some 18 provincial offices with the rest being set-up within a month.

During the last elections in 2005 most of the complaints officials were international staff members but this year the majority are Afghans.

“This is a real moment for Afghanistan to take control of this complaint process,” said Peter Lepsch, the legal advisor of the ECC.

The training programme for the complaints officials included sessions on office management, the complaints process and procedures, investigating complaints, public outreach and media relations skills.

In most cases, they will conduct an investigation on a complaint received and make a decision by themselves for the final decision to be reviewed by the head office in Kabul.

Anyone has a chance to file a complaint using a special form which is available at ECC offices.

“We want to ensure this process is credible. That people believe if anything goes wrong, anything irregular, we are able to address them, we are able to detect them and punish people if necessary,” said ECC Commissioner Maarten Halff.

“The ECC is there as a safeguard for the electoral process. We expect voters, if they have complaints, to provide us with specific information and evidence. So we rely on voters themselves as well to make us successful,” he added.

The campaign periods last from 16 June to 18 August with people going to the polls on 20 August.

The ECC has advised all its officials to be aware of the risks associated with campaigning including intimidation, violence, candidates interfering with ballots, ballot-box stuffing or attempts to change the results.

“The ECC is an Afghan institution under the electoral law. The police of the Ministry of Interior will be providing the security to our staff,” said Mr Halff. ”If provincial staff feel that taking a decision will present a risk to them, then they refer that matter to headquarters and we will be able to deal with it from there.”

“I have a good feeling about this thing. It is good for our sisters and for our women because after a long time, we can do something for our people, for our country, especially in this part, the election. I am happy and I prayed for many years that we can do some better things for our country,” said Mary Barakzai, a lawyer from Herat, one of the ten female complaints officials.

By Kangying Guo, UNAMA

Website: Electoral Complaints Commission