Afghanistan started voter registration on Sunday, in preparation for next year’s presidential polls, an election commission official said. “We started voter registration this morning in 41 different registration centres across the country in all of 34 provinces so that Afghans can use their given right to vote,” said Noor Mohammad Noor, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Election Commission. “It is going on well. In Kabul, there are three centres. We don’t have exact figures on the turnout, but initial reports say that the participation in registration process is encouraging,” he added. Registration will continue until two weeks before election day, slated for April 5, 2014, the commission said.
Articles about voting issues in The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s election commission on Tuesday set the country’s next presidential election for April 5, 2014, kicking off a race that would choose Hamid Karzai’s successor and unfold as U.S.-led forces leave the country. Mr. Karzai, who is prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term, is widely expected to name a preferred candidate in the polls, possibly his older brother Qayum or a trusted ally. But with 18 months until the poll date set by the Independent Election Commission, some observers were skeptical that a new voting system and electoral law will be completed in time to guide elections and stave off fraud.
Afghanistan’s election commission has drafted proposed changes to the country’s election law in a bid to prevent fraud in future parliamentary votes, an official said Sunday. Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election and the parliamentary election held a year later were both characterised by widespread electoral fraud. ”We have used the previous election experiences to prepare the new draft to improve future elections,” Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP. ”In the new draft around 50 percent of the electoral law will be changed.”
Condemned to die shortly after birth for being a girl, outspoken Afghan member of parliament Fawzia Koofi lived to become a champion of women’s rights and is now eyeing the presidency in 2014. The 36-year-old expects harsh opposition, threats of violence and pressure against her family as her campaign gets underway to replace Hamid Karzai, who must step down that year after serving the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms. ”I am sure my campaign will be the noisiest. I will have lots of troubles against me,” the politician from the country’s remote northeastern Badakhshan province told Reuters in an interview this week. Koofi is the first person to declare an intention to run in the election, which is becoming increasingly fraught with confusion and uncertainty in the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has named three new commissioners, including a former provincial governor, to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), a body that has faced criticism in the past for failing to stand up to government pressure. The internationally-funded IEC has been at the centre of a standoff between the Karzai administration and parliament over a fraud-marred 2010 vote in which it threw out nearly a quarter of all votes over fraud and technical complaints.
Two of the new commissioners are former members of parliament, Rida Azimi from Parwan province, and Sayed Hashim Folad from Nangarhar, while the third official is Ghulam Dastagir Azad, who was earlier appointed by Karzai as governor of Uruzgan province.
A spokesman for the seven-member IEC said the appointments had been made following the end of the three-year terms of three officials. The terms of two other officials was extended, while the remaining officials were in the middle of their term.
Afghan election officials say they stand by their decision to expel nine lawmakers from parliament for voter fraud, even though one of the unseated politicians vows to continue a hunger strike until she is reinstated.
The head of Afghanistan’s election commission said Tuesday that they are ready and willing to make public how they arrived to their decision. Despite the government’s ruling, Simeen Barakzai has vowed to continue her hunger strike outside parliament in Kabul.
It was the eighth day of ousted Afghan parliamentarian Simeen Barakzai’s hunger strike. Through chapped lips and in a rough voice, she said Sunday she would not drink or eat anything until President Hamid Karzai opened an investigation into vote fraud by the woman who has taken over her seat.
Her protest is the latest turn in a seemingly interminable dispute over who belongs in the Afghan parliament — still going on, more than a year after elections that were marred by fraud.
Fraud monitors discarded 1.3 million ballots from the poll — nearly a quarter of the total — and disqualified 19 winning candidates before results were finalized last fall. But many of the losers had argued that voters had been disenfranchised and pressured Karzai to revisit the results. Karzai eventually took the case to the courts, which ruled that 62 sitting parliamentarians should be removed, even though the court had no legal standing to change the results.
The speaker of Parliament on Saturday swore in eight of nine new members reinstated last month by the country’s election commission, as hundreds of police armed with riot gear and machine guns blocked the entrance to the building to keep out members who had been replaced by the commission’s ruling.
The sedate swearing-in ceremony was witnessed by only a few dozen Parliament members. Dozens more, however, stood outside in solidarity with the ousted members, in a sign of a widening rift within Parliament, which up to now had appeared mostly unified against President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to reshape the legislature.
A spokesman for the president denied that he had ordered extra police officers to block the ousted members, saying that police officials had decided on their own that the extra force was necessary to prevent irate lawmakers from entering the building with guns. But supporters of the nine disqualified members took it as a signal of the president’s willingness to use force to impose the panel’s decision.
Afghanistan’s election commission on Sunday sought to bring the nation’s year-long political stalemate to an end, ordering the unseating of nine of the parliament’s 249 lawmakers for electoral fraud. The decision was meant to defuse a feud between President Hamid Karzai and the parliament stretching back to last September’s fraud-riddled legislative elections.
Mr. Karzai, who decried the parliament’s makeup as unrepresentative because of the fraud, paved the way for Sunday’s announcement earlier this month. Then, acting under strong international pressure, he dissolved a special elections court and recognized the Independent Election Commission’s authority to rule on the issue.
The special court, filled with judges appointed by Mr. Karzai, had been widely viewed as an attempt by the president to change the election results and dilute the increased power of his rivals. The court had called for the replacement of 62 of the parliament’s members.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) has made a decision that aims to bring to a close nearly a year of drama and conflict following the country’s parliamentary election last fall. On Sunday, the IEC said it would remove nine of the 62 sitting members of parliament a special court ruled should lose their seats due to electoral fraud.
The decision is meant to be a final step in closing a dispute between President Hamid Karzai and the parliament that paralyzed the legislature and caused a constitutional crisis. Many of those losing their seats, however, say they will not accept the decision which may cause the electoral turmoil to drag on even longer. Among many Afghans, today’s attempted resolution for this standoff will do little to restore the government’s image, marred by its inability to efficiently find a solution and hold elections without widespread fraud and corruption.