Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghan Youth Debates: Nangarhar Officials Coerced into Poll Fraud

Some government officials in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar region who refused to commit fraud during the April 5 elections have been threatened with dismissal, writer and journalist Naqib Ahmad Atal says.

Speaking at a debate organised by IWPR at Nangarhar university on April 10, Atal alleged that election officers, too, were involved in corruption.

“Government officials and election commission officers were involved with [various] things in the east: running out of ballot papers early on election day, voting by children and minors, bribery of some polling stations staff, multiple voting by the same individual, and journalists being beaten up by Afghan security forces and their equipment being smashed.”

He continued, “A number of officials were deployed from Kabul to the eastern region to work for a specific candidate. When some of them refused, they were dismissed or threatened with dismissal.”

Atal called on the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to look into these claims.

IEC officials in Nangarhar did not reject the possibility that fraudulent incidents took place, and said the separate Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) would investigate any allegations.

“The ECC will make an accurate assessment of all the electoral complaints that are recorded. It will not allow a cloud to be cast over this nationwide process,” IEC representative Dr Abdol Jamil Sherzad said.

Nangarhar university lecturer Mangal Sherzad said the high turnout on election day was a sign that Afghans were becoming more politically aware. He also expressed concern about what would happen if the election results were delayed.

“Afghans participated in the elections on a massive scale despite many security risks and other threats. The election commission should respect that sacrifice by preventing fraud,” he said. “The long time it has taken to count the votes and announce the results could prepare the ground for another kind of fraud.”

Fazel is a student at Nangarhar 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.