A member of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said that the cyber-security of IEC’s data center has been enhanced in order to counter any threat of cyber-attacks. Mohammad Hanif Danishyar, a member of the IEC told Ariana News that two German experts from Dermalog, a German company, have arrived in Kabul to resolve the problem of low data transferring from biometric devices to main server. He also confirmed cyber-attacks on IEC main server. ‘Our server is the main thing in elections. We have taken special measures to avoid any possible threats. Even there was such attempts but experts have arrived. We want to make sure that the security of our server is not decreasing again,’ Mr. Danishyar said. In addition, officials said that around 23,000 result sheets and a complete data of voters from 5,000 biometric devices have been transferred to the IEC main server in Kabul.
Afghanistan: Biometric machines in Afghan vote improve after last year’s glitches | Rod Nikel/Reuters
Biometric machines aimed at preventing fraud in Afghanistan’s presidential election performed better than in a poll last year but still left voters waiting a long time to cast their ballots, election observers said on Saturday. The machines were used for the first time in the October parliamentary poll, when many malfunctioned or failed to work altogether. Chaos during that vote was blamed on the machines’ performance, along with incomplete voting lists and delays in holding the election. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) decided to use the machines during the presidential election but gave staff more training and issued spare batteries for the devices at each of the polling centers in a country with chronic power shortages. Polling stations, which each had one device, had paper registration forms as backup in case biometric verification failed.
Afghan authorities say they have launched an investigation into allegations that two election commissions misused their authority during last year’s general elections. The country’s Attorney General’s Office announced the investigation late on February 12, after all 12 members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) were dismissed for allegedly abusing their authority. The seven IEC officials and five IECC staff were also barred from leaving the country, the office said in a statement. The electoral officials were heavily criticized following the October parliamentary polls, which were marred by inefficiencies including absent electoral staff and missing voting materials. Final results for all 15 provinces are yet to be announced.
Afghanistan’s presidential election will take place next year on April 20 with results due by June, the electoral authority in the conflict-ridden country announced. The 12-day registration of presidential hopefuls will start next week, Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad, head of the Independent Election Commission, told a news conference in the capital Kabul on Monday. “All necessary preparations and an action plan are in place. Soon the recruitment of staff for the presidential polls will also begin,” he said. He pledged the results of the April 20 presidential polls would be out by June.
An election complaints agency on Thursday invalidated all of the votes cast in Kabul Province in October’s parliamentary election, more than a million in all, over fraud allegations, pushing the country toward another political crisis just as a top American diplomat arrived to build momentum for peace talks with the Taliban. The ruling set up a stalemate with the agency administering the vote, the Independent Election Commission. The commission said it would ignore the decision invalidating the votes — which would ordinarily require a new election within seven days — and would certify the results of Kabul’s vote in the coming days. It was unclear how the dispute would be resolved. The complaints agency did not describe the fraud accusations in detail, but it called for the firing of several Independent Election Commission staff members.
Afghanistan s election organisers vowed Tuesday to hold April s presidential poll on time, after fears it could be delayed as they struggle to compile results of the recent legislative vote amid thousands of complaints. The remarks come as the United States, in a bid to end the 17-year war, spearheads international efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks that some had feared could be derailed by the April 20 presidential election, which is expected to fiercely contested. On Monday, spokesmen for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) told reporters they were looking at pushing the ballot back to July 13. IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad said “economic, security and weather situations are forcing us to make some changes to the timeline”. But on Tuesday, officials decided not to delay, releasing a statement on the IEC Facebook page saying the vote would be held April 20 “on the demand of the people and parties”.
Election officials in Afghanistan are considering delaying next year’s presidential election by several months, amid disarray in counting votes from last month’s parliamentary balloting. Holding presidential elections by April 20 was previously one of international donors’ red lines in Afghanistan, especially after an embarrassing four-year delay in holding parliamentary elections. Now, however, some politicians and observers are suggesting that the electoral fiasco might help encourage peace talks with the Taliban, who are unlikely to agree to a deal if a new president is about to be elected for a five-year term. Three officials at the Independent Elections Commission confirmed on Sunday that discussions were underway on a potential delay for the presidential vote, but they insisted no decision had been made.
The number of civilians harmed in last month’s parliamentary elections was higher than in four previous elections in Afghanistan, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report. At least 435 civilian casualties were recorded, out of which 56 people were killed and 379 wounded, on election day on October 20, and during days when delayed polling was conducted in some provinces. The numbers do not include casualties from attacks during the three-week election campaign. “This report documents grave concerns over the organised campaign of numerous attacks by anti-government elements, mainly Taliban, directed at civilian objects and in civilian populated areas during the elections, including attacks against schools used as polling centres,” the report said.
Afghanistan: Suicide bomber targets Afghanistan’s election commission headquarters in Kabul | The Defense Post
A suicide bomber targeting the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission on Monday killed at least one person and wounded six, officials said, in the latest violence to strike the controversial poll. One police officer was killed when the militant, who was on foot, blew up near a vehicle carrying IEC employees as it entered the base at 8 a.m. (0330 GMT). Four election workers and two other police officers were also wounded in the blast. The attacker was “identified and gunned down by police before reaching his target,” Kabul police spokesperson Basir Mujahid told reporters.
Embattled Afghan election officials on Monday vowed to investigate the mishandling of the weekend’s problem-plagued legislative ballot, as voters prepare to wait weeks for the results. Initial figures show around four million voted in the long-delayed election that was extended by a day after many polling centres opened late or not at all due to glitches with biometric verification devices and missing or incomplete voter rolls. That is less than half of the nearly nine million voters who had registered to participate in the parliamentary election, though many suspect that a significant number of those were based on fake identification documents that fraudsters hoped to use to stuff ballot boxes. The turnout figure does not include those who voted on Sunday, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said.
On October 20, Afghanistan held its long overdue parliamentary elections. Delayed since 2015, the polls were only the third since the ousting of the extremist Islamist Taliban regime in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. While voter turnout in Kabul and other cities was reportedly high, the election was spoiled by technical and organizational problems at some of the 4,900 polling stations across the country. Contrary to large populations centers, where security was – for Afghan standards – relatively good, insurgent attacks severely hampered, if not prevented, voting in some more remote areas. These disruptions open the door even further for – justified or not – criticism of the results (preliminary results are scheduled to be announced on November 10). The Diplomat visited two polling centers in Kabul’s Shahr-i Naw, a neighborhood in the center of the Afghan capital only a few minutes’ walk away from heavily guarded ministries and embassies. Both opened as scheduled on the morning of October 20. Voters arrived alone or in small groups and entered the stations, which were – like many around the country – located in mosques guarded by a number of police officers. Across Afghanistan, reportedly 70,000 government forces were deployed to ensure the security of the elections.
Polls have closed in Afghanistan’s long-awaited parliamentary elections, with large numbers of voters defying deadly attacks to cast their ballots. Most polling stations in the country opened on Saturday at 7am (02:30 GMT) and were scheduled to close at 4pm (12:30 GMT). But voting was extended to Sunday at 6pm (13:30 GMT) as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said they gave voters more time to cast their ballot because of a lack of voter materials at some polling stations and problems with the electronic voter system. Zabih Ullah Sadat, deputy spokesperson for the commission, told Al Jazeera that 250 polling centres “opened at 9am on Sunday and remained open until all the voters had cast their ballots”. Vote counting is under way and preliminary results are expected within 20 days. The electoral body has until December 20 to release the final results.
From a university student to a middle-aged housewife, Afghans planning to vote in the October 20 parliamentary election say they are willing to risk their lives for democracy. Nearly nine million people have registered to vote, but far fewer are expected to turn out on polling day due to threats of violence and expectations for massive fraud. Six people across the war-torn country explain why their vote matters.
– Omaid, the artist – Out with the old and in with the new is Omaid Sharifi’s hope for the legislative election. The 32-year-old artist, who is voting for the first time, wants to see a new generation of politicians take their seats in the next parliament. Sharifi, co-founder of Kabul-based street art collective ArtLords, was inspired to vote by the large cohort of young, educated candidates among the more than 2,500 contesting the ballot. I am concerned (about security) but I think this is the price of democracy we have to pay,” he said.
Afghan officials say at least 22 people have been killed — including civilians and members of the Afghan security forces — by a bomb that exploded at an election campaign rally for a woman who is running for parliament in the northeast of the country. Ahmad Jawad Hijri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar Province, said 36 people were wounded in the attack in Rustaq district. He earlier told RFE/RL that the death toll could rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition. Khalil Aser, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said at least 32 people were wounded by the blast.
Afghan refugees living in Iran and Pakistan continue to face an uncertain future, and the upcoming parliamentary election on October 20 doesn’t seem to solve any of their problems. As these refugees are not allowed to vote in the polls, they feel they will have no influence over the legislators in the next parliament. There is little incentive for these people to return to their homeland. A lack of security in Afghanistan and Kabul’s reluctance to support them hinder their return. Authorities in Islamabad and Tehran urge the Afghan government to take back refugees, as they consider them a burden on their economy. But many of these refugees have been living in the neighboring countries for decades and despite various problems in the host nations, Iran and Pakistan are still a better option for them.
A suicide bomber has struck an election meeting in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, killing at least eight people, including a candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections, a provincial official said. Saleh Mohammad Achekzai was holding a meeting in front of his house in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives on Tuesday. The blast also killed several of Achekzai’s bodyguards, Attahullah Afghan, head of the southern Helmand provincial council told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. It was the second suicide attack to target a parliamentary candidate since campaigning officially kicked off on September 28 for the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 20.
Fresh fighting in central and eastern Afghanistan has killed at least 20 people, half of them civilians, fueling security concerns among voters ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections. Authorities in the central Maidan Wardak province confirmed Sunday the Taliban overnight staged a major offensive on the Sayed Abad district headquarters. The insurgents briefly overran key government installations in Sayed Abad, killing the district police chief along with at least nine other policemen. The Taliban also set fire to some official buildings before withdrawing from the district center, a usual rebel tactic. Sayed Abad is located on the main highway linking the national capital of Kabul to southern Afghanistan. Insurgents blew up bridges on the highway before assaulting the district, blocking all traffic, the provincial governor, Mohammad Arif Shajahan, confirmed Sunday. The Taliban has also planted mines on parts of the high, he added.
A suicide bomber attacked an election rally on Tuesday in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, killing at least 14 people and once again highlighting security concerns as candidates prepare for an Oct. 20 parliamentary vote amid a raging war. The attack struck at a gathering of about 300 supporters of the candidate Nasir Mohmand in Nangarhar’s Kama district. Najibullah Kamawal, the province’s director of public health, said at least 43 others were wounded. Officials feared the toll could rise. Mr. Mohmand survived, but with more than two weeks until Election Day, at least other seven candidates have already been killed across Afghanistan.
A suicide bomber struck an election rally in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding around 40, a provincial official said. The attack, the first since campaigning began last week ahead of elections for the lower house of parliament, underscored the widespread violence gripping the country 17 years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban. The vote is scheduled for Oct. 20 but it’s unclear if the balloting will go ahead in areas controlled by the Taliban, who have seized several districts across the country in recent years and who carry out near-daily attacks. Tuesday’s attack targeted a rally for Abdul Naser Mohmand, an independent candidate, who was unharmed.
Campaigning has started in Afghanistan for next month’s parliamentary elections amid concerns that the much-delayed vote could be postponed again due to the uncertainty over new technology. The vote for the lower house of parliament has been scheduled for October 20 – delayed by more than three years – and is seen as a test for the presidential elections that will take place in April. New government measures hope to put an end to the previous issues they have faced. With election fraud now being a criminal offence, voting stations will be placed in public buildings and monitored. Additionally, a new advanced voting system will be used.
Campaigning for Afghanistan’s long-delayed parliamentary elections kicks off Friday (Sep 28), as a crescendo of deadly violence and claims of widespread fraud fuel debate over whether the vote will go ahead. More than 2,500 candidates will contest the Oct 20 poll, which is seen as a test run for next year’s presidential vote and a key milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”. But preparations for the ballot, which is more than three years late, have been in turmoil for months, despite UN-led efforts to keep Afghan organisers on track.
Afghanistan: Protestors shut down election offices in Afghanistan ahead of vote delayed by three years | The Independent
Protesters demanding anti-fraud measures shut down the offices of Afghanistan’s election commission in three of the country’s major provinces on Saturday, just weeks before a vote for Parliament, The protest is the latest symptom of a political logjam that could turn violent amid a raging war with the Taliban. The last-minute jockeying over an election already delayed by three years suggests that after five elections over 17 years, costing about $1bn, Afghanistan lacks a basic consensus on how an election should be held and a credible body to oversee it.
Afghanistan: Weeks away, critical Afghan elections threatened by violence, claims of manipulation | The Washington Post
In the lawless days of Afghanistan’s civil war, Zardad Faryadi was a young militia commander with a uniquely cruel reputation. From a highway checkpoint near Kabul, he extorted money from travelers and enforced his demands by threatening to let loose a menacing man who was later executed for killing 20 people, according to human rights reports. Faryadi fled the country but wound up serving 13 years in a British prison for conspiring to torture and take hostages in Afghanistan. Today, at 54, he is back home and attempting to run for parliament in elections scheduled just over six weeks from now. He seems like a changed man — reflective and eager to defend the rights of nomadic groups backing his candidacy. But he and 35 other candidates have been barred from running for legislative seats because of ties to illegal groups.
Supporters of a number of political parties and political movements on Wednesday staged a demonstration in two areas of Kabul to press the Afghan political leadership and the election commission to meet their demands regarding the election process. The protestors criticized the Presidential Palace for its reluctance to create a joint commission of government and the political parties to undertake some basic changes in the election system and warned that they will expand their civil protests unless government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) meets their demands for reforms in the election system. However the Presidential Palace (ARG) so far has not reacted to the move, but the election commission has hit out over the demands by the political parties – especially that involve a biometric system on election day.
A ban on dozens of Afghan strongmen and lawmakers from running for parliament because of suspected links to illegal armed groups has spurred threats to disrupt a general election already at risk from worsening security. The October polls, seen as an important test of Afghanistan’s democratic legitimacy and a dry run for a presidential election next year, have been repeatedly delayed because of organizational problems. “There will be riots, protests and road-blockages if they don’t accept me,” said Assadullah Sharifi, a lawmaker who is among 35 people the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has barred from standing.
The election commission in Afghanistan on Monday warned the government of further delays in the long-due parliamentary elections as protesters shut down its office in the capital Kabul. Angry loyalists to a number of politicians barred by the commission from taking part in the polls on various charges have taken to the streets in different cities. In Kabul, protesters shut down the headquarters of Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday against the move, sparking fears about further delay in parliamentary elections that are due for years. Abdul Badi Sayad, the head of the election commission, urged the government to provide effective security to the electoral commission office otherwise IEC would not take responsibility for the delay.
A deadline for Afghans to register to vote in the October 20 legislative elections has been extended, officials said Friday, as figures show hundreds of civilians have already been killed or wounded in poll-related violence. Enrolment for the long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections began on April 14 and was originally scheduled to finish in mid-June. By Thursday, just over 1.5 million adults had signed up to vote, a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) told AFP — a fraction of the 14 million it had hoped to register during the two-month process. “The election commission of Afghanistan has extended the voting registration process for one month,” the IEC said in a statement, without explaining the reason for the decision.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sacked the chairman of the country’s Independent Election Commission on Wednesday, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned. Najibullah Ahmadzai, head of the body charged with organizing the elections, had faced growing pressure following repeated delays to preparations for them and had lost the support of both Ghani and disillusioned foreign donors. The 2018 votes are seen as dry runs for a presidential election in 2019 and a key test of the progress made by Afghanistan’s Western-backed government towards establishing durable democratic institutions.
The e-voting system assessment committee on Thursday said that the complete implementation of e-voting system in Afghanistan is not practical. According to the commission, it would be difficult to conduct the country’s parliamentary and district council elections in the current year. According to the committee, currently, the e-voting system is applicable only in a few areas of the election process which include the voter registration process, the certification of voters’ identity during voting and the transfer of results of voting. But, the CEO’s office has said that investigations and assessments of the process are underway.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday said it had rejected the first proposal of the technical team on the e-voting system, and that it had called for the plan to be reviewed. The IEC said it had raised 38 queries with regards to the proposal and that the plan needs to be reassessed, said IEC spokesman Gulajan Abdulbadi Sayad. This comes a day after the (IEC) said the team tasked with reviewing an e-voting system for Afghanistan would send their results to the commission within the next three days.