Lock breakers scandal in IEC; who did what?

Amid tight scrutiny by the international institutions, watch dog organizations and election observers on vote counting process, the stability and partnership presidential ticket led by the incumbent chief executive Abdullah have claimed that the Afghan Crisis Response Unite (CRU) forces have entered in the building of the National Tally Center (NTC) of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) around 10:00 pm, on Sunday night after breaking locks of the door of the NTC building in collusion with observers from the state builder presidential ticket which is led by the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani.

In reaction to the incident, the stability and partnership ticket have asked the authorities to suspend Senior Deputy Interior Minister, Khoshal Saadat and Secretariat Chief of the IEC, Habibul Rahman Nang.

The IEC authorities denied to comment on the issue despite repeated calls by Kabul Now.

The NTC building remained close on Monday. No one was allowed to enter in it. The IEC commissioners held long meetings behind closed door but have not shared details of the meeting with public so far.

Election observers who are closely watching vote counting process as quoting the IEC authorities told Kabul Now that locks of the door of the building that surrounds the NTC were found broken on Monday morning.

Speaking at a press conference held on Monday evening, Ali Ahmad Osmani, who is a supporter of the stability and partnership ticket, pressed the watchdog organizations and IEC authorities to investigate the case. “It is an attack on people’s vote and dignity,” he said.   

The Ministry of Interior (MoI), however, rejected the claim, calling ‘completely baseless.’ The MoI officials underlined that security forces have been remained neutral and will remain neutral as far as election is concerned.   

On the other hand, Javid Faisal, a spokesperson for Ghani’s ticket, also rejected the claims and accused the rival ticket of attempting to create distrust by blaming the state builder ticket. “We have also shared our concerns in this regard with the election commission and the IEC officials assured us that there is nothing serious to worry about,” Faisal said.

Pointing to the CRU unit, Osmani claimed the CRU forces who broke the padlocks were under direct command of Khoshal Saadat.

But some IEC officials have said that the security forces who were there broke padlocks to escape the cold weather and seek comfort outside NTA center.

According to Osmani, observers of the stability and partnership ticket have witnessed the incident before their eyes. “When we went to the center after 10:00 pm, there was power outage inside the center. We urged the authorities to check out security cameras,” Osmani said.

The National Tally Center is located in a second floor of IEC’s headquarter. In the presence of observers, its main door is locked with sealing numbers every day after working hours end and opened in the same way in the next working day.

Naser Naserizada, who is a TEFA observer, told Kabul Now that on Monday morning IEC officials said the door of the NTC building was not locked as a result of a direct duty negligence by security forces but on the afternoon of the same day, he, citing IEC officials, said the door locks of the building that surrounds the NTC center were broken.  

According to Naserizada 2,643 biometric devices have been kept in the NTC building. “Technical people disguised in police uniform have entered in the building aiming to manipulate votes,” he expressed.

Meanwhile, Yousuf Rasheed, executive director of FEFA told Kabul Now that according to their findings the security forces have broken the locks of door of the building that surrounds the NTC to spend the night there.  

In a press conference held today, October 22, Hawa Alam Nooristani, Chief of the IEC, told journalists that locks of the door of the NTC center have not been broken.

The IEC commissioner Awrangzib underlined that the NTC was safe. According to him the NTC remained closed on Monday due to protests by Abdullah’s ticket.  

But Rahima Zarifi, another IEC commissioner, said a committee—comprises of IEC members, international advisers, and observers of the presidential tickets—has been formed to investigate the incident.