Press Release: FEFA expresses concern over sidelining of electoral reform in Afghanistan
15 December 2020
The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) welcomes government’s focus on peace which has been a long-standing dream of the Afghan nation and believes that peace is not only a priority for the national stakeholders but also for the international stakeholders of Afghanistan success of which needs collaboration, cooperation and support. But at the same time, it expresses its concern over marginalization of election and lack of specific programing for electoral reform to develop a specific plan for conducting the Wolesi Jirga’s election in Ghazni province, provincial council and the district council elections which have been clearly mentioned in the constitution and is a part of the political agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah. Continuation of the current situation increases the concerns over forgetfulness of election which is a principle of republic and a remarkable achievement made over the past 20 years. It will also result that the republic’s negotiation team fail to defend the election as an important value, citizens’ right and at the same a red line for ensuring stability in the country.
FEFA as an active election watchdog organization is regularly observing the performance of election commissions and government organizations involved in election process through conducting regular meetings with them and studying their actions. Additionally, FEFA provides them with specific proposals and recommendations to help prevent major and serious problems.
A major part of electoral reform is amendment of electoral laws to provide a clear and comprehensive guidance for all election stakeholders. As you know, the president signed the legislative decree on amendment of the election law on February 20, 2019. Therefore, the 2019 presidential election with all its shortcomings and problems was conducted based on it. Then all sides found that the legislative decree, in several ways, need reform and amendment. However, in contradiction with the constitution, the decree was not put in a vote in Wolesi Jirga but this delay paved the way for the election commission and the government to work for further enrichment of the decree in coordination with the election relevant organizations, political parties, lawyers and experts and present a complete and reformed version to Wolesi Jirga. At the same time, Ministry of Justice conducted several meetings on reform and codification of a proposal on amendment of election law but unfortunately the proposal hasn’t been finalized while hearing that Wolesi Jirga plans to include the legislative decree on the election law in the agenda of its plenary session planned for December 16, 2020.
If both houses of the parliament approve the decree, it means that all the shortcomings and problems we witnessed in the 2019 elections will remain unsolved. Additionally, reform of the election laws which is a part of the political agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah will not be achieved. In the second scenario, if both houses of the parliament reject the legislative decree, the law on elections and the law on the structure, duties and authorities of the electoral commissions ratified by the parliament in 1395 solar year, will again come into effect which will automatically impact on the current organizational structure of the electoral commissions and the improvements made in the 2018 parliamentary and 2019 presidential elections.
It worth mentioning that FEFA had conducted several meetings with the electoral commissions after the presidential elections and regularly asked the Election Commission to develop a draft= law on election in consultation with election relevant organization and political parties and submit it to the Ministry of Justice. Unfortunately, the Election Commission has been unable to work on the draft=law as we recommended them. However, FEFA has shared its reforming proposals on election’s technical and operations issues and also on amendment of the election law with the leadership of the Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission. Moreover, FEFA expresses its full commitment for helping the electoral reform. Therefore, will continue its cooperation with the election relevant bodies.
As mentioned, Ministry of Justice has been working on a proposal on amendment of the election law since the past 3 months. Therefore, FEFA had meetings with the Minister of Justice and its technical team to share its recommendation about further enrichment of the law on elections.
At the same time, FEFA sent an official letter to the speaker and administrative board of the Wolesi Jirga requesting them to postpone voting the presidential legislative decree on election law, and instead asking the Ministry of Justice and other relevant organizations to develop their proposals on amendment of the election law in consultation with election stakeholders and send to Wolesi Jirga for voting.
For solving the above mentioned shortcoming and problems, FEFA present the following recommendations to the government of Afghanistan and relevant organizations:
1. Wolesi Jirga exclude voting the presidential decree on amendment of the election law from its agenda(December 16) and instead give time for the Ministry of Justice to receive the proposal on amendment of the election law from the election commission and other relevant organizations and then share the final version with the Wolesi Jirga for voting.
2. Wolesi Jirga is requested to demand the Election Commission to share its proposal on technical and operational improvement of election process with the Ministry of Justice in order to let the ministry develop a comprehensive proposal and present to the Wolesi Jirga for further legal processing.
3. Ministry of Justice develop a final draft given the recommendations made by the election stakeholders and present to the Wolesi Jirga for approval or rejection. Approval or rejection of the election laws must not take a long time since the issue of last working year of the legislative period and lack of authority of Wolesi Jirga to discuss the election law in its last year of its legislative period will raise again.
4. Besides, presenting a proposal on the election law to the Ministry of Justice, the election commission should finalize its plan for conducting the parliamentary election in Ghazni, provincial council and district council elections in all 34 provinces and share it with the government to plan for financial costs and security measures. FEFA expresses its concern over lack of budgeting for the elections in the 1400 fiscal year’s budget and lack of donors’ interest for funding the parliamentary election in Ghazni province and the provincial council elections.
5. Besides trying for success in the peace negotiation, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the defender of the republic and its values on the negotiation table is requested to pay attention to conducting the parliamentary election in Ghazni province and the provincial council and district council elections given the commitments they made in the political agreement and include its budget in the 1400 fiscal year’s budget.
6. The international community as the patron of the government and democracy in Afghanistan is requested to support and take action to improve the process besides supporting peace process.
For more details, please contact FEFA’s media team: 0796534986/0700225831