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Afghan Youth Debates: Election Complaints Body Shaping Up

By Mohammad Faisal Nawid






The work of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) is crucial to building public trust in the legitimacy of Afghanistan's coming presidential poll, an IWPR debate has heard.

Naim Ayubzada, director of the Transparent and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, a poll monitoring group, said the IECC could play a valuable role in helping prevent fraud and contributing to an open election on April 5.

“The IECC can play a significant role in contributing to the transparency of the election," Ayubzada told Kabul University students attending the March 6 event. "It can help prevent fraud and strengthen the legitimacy of a future government. It's a good actor in building trust.”

Ayubzada welcomed a recent change to the way IECC board members are selected. Where previously they were appointed by President Hamed Karzai, now they will be picked by a committee of senior government ministers.

The IECC, a sister body to the Independent Elections Committee (IEC) which will oversee the presidential and provincial council elections next month, was established in 2009. Its role is to address objections and complaints, often related to ballot fraud or threats of violence against election workers.

The commission has the power to impose fines or order a recount if allegations of vote-rigging are proved.

It can also deal with complaints regarding the eligibility of candidates, and can prevent individuals from standing if they fail to meet the legal criteria required for office.

Amin Arman, an undergraduate at Kabul University, told the IWPR panel that he was concerned that some of the IECC's regional offices were not yet open, preventing local residents from reporting fraud.

Ayoubzada said his organisation had already raised concerns about this at IECC headquarters in Kabul, and had been told that all the provincial offices were expected to be up and running soon.

“As an observer body, we've spoken to the IECC about opening their offices as soon as possible to allow people to file complaints," he said.  

A spokesman for the IECC has since confirmed to IWPR that all regional offices are now open.

Mohammad Faisal Nawid is a student at Kabul University and an IWPR trainee.

This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

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