Why Afghan Electoral Bodies Need Proper Overhaul

Why Afghan Electoral Bodies Need Proper Overhaul
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Image credits: unama.unmissions.org

With the Afghan Presidential elections forthcoming, as many as 18 Afghan presidential hopefuls have registered their candidacies. In October 2018, we witnessed the third round of parliamentary elections with pervasive rigging and mismanagement. This year we are about to take part in the fourth term of Presidential elections, which are to be held this July following a three-month postponement against the prior schedule. However, based on popular belief, the 2019 election promises to be no different than the previous ones because everyone thinks that as always the inevitable fraud would again mar the election and it might further destabilize the country if past lessons are ignored.

On top of this pessimistic outlook towards polls, our presidential contenders’ political stumbles right at the outset of electoral registration are disappointing. Besides, the managing task of 18 presidential hopefuls might give the electoral bodies – The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – an even more tough time to transparently carry out the polls and thus this necessitates the bodies’ absolute reform and extreme effort to cope with it.

The preparation for the polls began with plenty of blunders and peculiar jokes, hurting the already damaged image and credibility of elections in Afghanistan. They are no less than comedy scenes. General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the incumbent first vice president, mistakes his running mate’s (Esmat Karzai) name for Hashmat Khalil Karzai during his speech on joining Dr. Abdullah’s electoral ticket. But he, in order to offset the embarrassment, says it doesn’t matter because all the names are alike and that there are a hundred Karzais.

At the ceremony announcing his candidacy, CEO Abdullah Abdullah is surprised by Gulbadin Hekmatyar’s joining of the presidential race. “What is really interesting and which we all welcome is the running for the presidency by an erstwhile warlord, who was fighting Afghans five years ago,” he remarked. This ironic commentary reminds one of the popular Pashto proverb, which goes: “Sieve tells the water vessel you have two holes in you.”

Adding to this political melodies, running mate of Hanif Atmar, Younus Qanuni, utters, “adding to the talks of Excellency Karzai […]” while actually referring to Atmar, who is standing next to him. The Presidential hopeful cuts him short and whispers in his ears to correct him. Subsequently, all of them laugh just like a spectacular joke in a sitcom.

Another stunning scene is when Mohaqiq, the second running mate on Atmar’s team, starts with a weird joke and loud laughing at the beginning of his speech. He makes the joke about Mullahs in order to, as he said, cheer up the crowd and supposedly awake them from sleep.

Hakeem Torzan, another presidential candidate, when asked by Ariana News moderator what positions he will give Abdullah and Ghani if succeeded, he replies angrily that he won’t even keep them as tea mak