KABUL - National Coalition leader Abdullah Abdullah Wednesday claimed that the government is attempting to control Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), pointing to the recent pressure it has brought to bear on the commission's decisions.
Following government demands, the senate did not approve an IEC-recommended and parliament-backed structure of having foreign observers on the board of the Electoral Complaints Commission which oversees the election ballot.
More recently, the IEC has caved to another government demand – to use the old voting registration system and voting cards in the next presidential election, despite the IEC's insistence that it will greatly increase the chances of fraud.
Abdullah addressed a gathering in the Kabul mosque calling for people to not accept any fraud or violations of the law.
"The time of fraud has passed and the people now want their rights. The government has put such pressure [on the IEC] that the election officials have announced that we are surrendering to the government," Abdullah said.
Head of Eqtidar-e-Milli party Sayed Ali Kazimi said at the gathering that the government has transgressed the law.
"The election law was approved by parliament but the government has kept it in senate," he said.
IEC spokesman responded to Abdullah's comments saying that the commission will not allow anyone to intervene the in the electoral affairs.
"All want to intervene to their own benefit but our promise to the people is that we will not surrender to any person or any group," Noor Mohammad Noor told TOLOnews Wednesday in a telephone interview.
However, on Monday IEC chief Fazil Ahmad Manawi clearly told TOLOnews that the commission backed down from its demand for new voter registrations and cards because of the refusal of the government. "If our previous plans were accepted, as we promised we could guarantee the transparency of the election but we didn't have any other alternative," he said of the IEC shift.
"We have some other measures that can guarantee transparency, but one thing is clear: we cannot implement our programs [as we want] and we don't want to be fighting with the government. We want go forward in harmony and the election should be held in a transparent environment," he added. (Tolo News)