Political parties warn to form parallel gov’t if IEC does not address their demands

As the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has started the second round of recount and special audit of some polling stations, three major political parties supporting Chief Executive Abdullah have warned that they would form a parallel government if the IEC does not ensure accountability of the votes and address their demands.    

The warning was first issued by President’s Ghani’s First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is the leader of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. Mr. Dostum is a staunch supporter of Abdullah. The warning was subsequently supported by Hezb-e-Jamiat Islami and Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami— two major parties that represent the ethnic Tajiks and Hazaras.

After nearly a two month-long assessment of election related complaints, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) came up with the decision to do a special audit of almost 1,500 polling stations as sample stations which will determine the fate of around 300,000 controversial votes.

Three major presidential tickets led by Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Rahmatullah Nabil have repeatedly called for invalidation of the 300,000 votes, arguing that they were either cast fraudulently or beyond the voting time limit on September 28, 2019.

Special audit and a second recount process

The IEC said on Sunday, February 16, that it has already started the second round of recount process in Badakhshan, Takhar, Sar-e-Pul, Faryab, Ghazni, Nangarhar, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kabul provinces. It noted that the special audit of sample polling stations for around 300,000 controversial votes is underway in the central headquarters of the IEC. According to the election commission, the recount process has been completed in Ghazni, Helmand, and Sar-e-Pul provinces.

Appearing in a press conference held on Sunday, February 16, Fazal Ahmad Manawi, a senior member of Abdullah’s presidential ticket, accused IEC of starting the recount and special audit process unilaterally and in the absence of the ticket’s observers and electoral watchdogs.

Raising doubts over the performance of the electoral commissions, Manawi, warned that they would boycott the process if the IEC continues on its unilateral actions. He further went on to describe special audit in sample polling stations as contrary to election law and procedures.

The special audit and recount process once started last Thursday, February 13, but was stopped after observers of the IECC left the area, protesting against a reported violation of counting procedures by the IEC.  

Habibul Rahman Nang, secretariat of the IEC, says that IECC observers are currently monitoring recount process in some provinces while there is no IECC observers in some others for no reason.

Differences in IECC

Apparently new differences have emerged between commissioners of the complaint commission, IECC, since last Thursday, February 13, over sending its observers to oversight implementation process of the complaints commission’s decisions by the IEC in provinces and in the capital, Kabul.

Though Habibul Rahman Nang, said Sunday that the IECC observers have left recount and special audit process in some provinces without any reason, sources from IECC told Kabul Now that the commission observers will not make presence in the process until the IEC continues to violate the special audit and recount procedures.

The IECC has instructed its provincial offices not to attend the recount and special audit process until a second notice from the commission’s central office in Kabul.

Executive director of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), Yousuf Rashid, confirmed that IECC observers left the process hours after it was started. He, however, denounced the IECC’s move as questionable and in defiance to organization or professional behavior. Mr. Rashid concluded that there are seemingly some differences within the IECC.