KABUL (SW) – A credible source has told Salam Watandar the electoral commission’s plans for holding forthcoming presidential polls on time are too good to be true.
The source, one of the financial backers of the polls, said only installation of the biometric technology for these polls would require from 12 to 18 months while only five months are left for the voting. This source said it would financially back electoral observers instead of the voting process.
The source said the electoral commission lacks the minimum authority to hire a common staffer let alone holding this mammoth exercise across the country.
Reports suggest at least 26 provincial offices of the Independent Election Commission are being run by interim heads. This indicates key posts remain vacant at the IEC.
Meanwhile, a number of presidential candidates believe if international backers let go of their financial support, the IEC would face serious challenges in holding the polls.
A member of Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign team, Noor Rehman Akhlaqi, told SW the electoral commission is facing shortages of funds for holding the polls and the time is running out. He said if the budget concerns are not addressed, the polls are going to be marred by fraud and irregularities. He blamed the government for the budgetary issues, and said the contracting process for biometric products is yet to be completed.
A member of Haneef Atmar’s campaign team, Mohammad Waizi, said in this regard that IEC has no desire and will to hold polls on time. He said no practical measures have been taken by the IEC, and no staff members have been trained about the use of biometric devices. He said the IEC is under the influence of Arg (presidency).
He charged the government is seeking engineered polls to secure another term for President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
Electoral watchdogs are also skeptical about the possibility of timely polls.
Naeem Ayubzada, chairman of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, said irregularities, lack of a clear strategy by the IEC and lack of coordination between the government and international community could mean elections might not take place this year.
Head of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, Yosuf Rasheed, said the international community has so far not paid the budget for the polls, and the government shall bear all expenses. He feared this indicates polls might not take place on time.
However, IEC spokesman, Zabihullah Sadat, asserted electoral operations are on track, and the government has pledged to provide 20 per cent of the budget. He said voters list consume most of the time, and the IEC is striving hard to improve and use this list from the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) polls held in October last year.
According to the IEC, the presidential polls would be held on 28 September.