IEC halts recount process across Afghanistan

In a collective decision on Wednesday, November 13, leadership of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) put the recounting process of votes on halt throughout the country. “This process has been stopped aiming to address objections and concerns raised by political parties, [presidential] candidates, and civil society organizations,” read the decision 106 of the IEC.

The decision, however, stipulates that ballot boxes which are currently under recounting and audit process are exempted. 

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, November 12, chairwoman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) Hawa Alam Nooristani said that vote recount process remains on halt in 14 provinces over what she described as the result of barriers created by supporters of some presidential tickets.

Nooristani detailed that out of 26,580 polling stations operated on the Election Day, September 28, votes of 8,255 polling stations were decided to be recounted.

The IEC chairwoman revealed the number of operating polling stations on the Election Day after Rahmatullah Nabil, who is running for president in the 2019 presidential election, criticized the IEC for not having announced the number of operating and non-operating polling stations on the Election Day.

Jamal Naser Osoli, a spokesperson for President Ghani’s state builder ticket, accused presidential ticket led by Chief Executive Abdullah of interrupting the recounting process in some provinces. He said Abdullah’s team provokes and pays people to protest against the process.  

A senior member of Abdullah’s ticket, Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, however, rejected the accusation, saying that protesters prevented recounting in 20 provinces during past two days. “The protest is spontaneous and the protestors do not want their destiny to be determined by a rigged vote,” he noted.

In a statement issued today, November 13, the IEC said that the recounting process has started in 25 provinces, completed in four provinces, but remained halted in nine provinces. It further stated that the 915 polling stations were completely recounted so far.

Mrs. Nooristani, however, reiterated on Tuesday, November 12, that biometrically verified votes were valid votes for the IEC and they would only count votes with the basis of biometric verification. “The [recounting] process has started with full accuracy based on the commission’s 104 and 105 decisions and in line with the law, rules, and procedures,” she asserted.

Ahmad Zubair Habibzada, a spokesperson for the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), described the IEC decision as a violation of the election law. He further warned that the recounting process would provoke some presidential tickets not to accept the election results.

“Unfortunately, the process is not currently monitored thoroughly and the election results will not be acceptable for presidential tickets and the people of Afghanistan,” he noted.

Akhlaqi also described the recounting process as illegal and “unacceptable” for the stability and partnership ticket.

Mr. Osoli, who spoke on behalf of Ghani’s state builder ticket, praised the IEC’s decision for recounting the votes, notifying that “we stand with it (the IEC) and observe [the process]”.

On the other Hand, Mrs. Nooristani expressed concern over another delay in announcement of the preliminary election results. She urged all candidates and observers to let the election commission continue recounting process so that it would be able to announce the preliminary results on November 14.

Ghani’s ticket also have repeatedly stressed that the preliminary results should be announced on due date while three other presidential tickets led by Abdullah Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Rahmatullah Nabil have boycotted the process.