Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The Government Proceed to Prosecution of Electoral Offenders appreciated

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The Government Proceed to Prosecution  of Electoral Offenders appreciated

Following the election shortcomings the government authorities has broken their silence. The interior ministry has informed of arresting 80 people in connection with electoral fraud so far. The day before, Nosrat Rahimi, the Deputy spokesman for ministry of interior told the media that the 80 arrestees include observers, voters, police officers, and IEC officials who were blamed for electoral fraud and interferences in the affairs of the Electoral Commission. According to him, 44 detainees are residents of Kabul and the rest are from other provinces of the country. However, he did not provide further details and said the detainees were brought to the prosecution.
Thus, President Ghani criticized on IEC during a visit to Helmand, “I call on the Independent Election Commission to find out why polling stations in Helmand did not open on time and why materials did not reach on time.” He also stressed that mistakes happened in the parliamentary election cannot be repeated in presidential vote. The parliamentary election, which was held after years of delay over reforming the system, was marred by a series of technical and organizational failures that forced delays.
Lessons will be learnt,” Ghani said during his visit to southern province of Helmand. He suggested that people should not be deprived of voting and cast ballot in a free manner and without facing delays. He said that people in Helmand were concerned that a winner candidate might be failed. “If anyone fails them, he himself would be failed,” Ghani warned. “Meddling is not acceptable,” Ghani said. “I have not meddled even once because I believe that the people would resist.”
In the meanwhile, some members of parliament call on the two electoral commissions to fulfill their commitments regarding a transparent election. Abdul Raouf Ebrahimi said on Monday that people largely took part in the October 20 legislation election because the Independent Election Commission had earlier vowed to use the biometrics system in order to prevent fraud. “We hope that the Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission to carry out based on the law and fulfill their commitments over the transparency of election, so that the results of elections be acceptable for people,” said Ebrahimi.
The electoral watchdogs also warn that confrontation between the two commissions would put negative impacts on the results and would hamper the next year’s presidential election. “The two commissions have to solve their problems based on their rights and authorities. They should not accuse each other through news conferences because some politicians will misuse their differences,” said Yousof Rashid, head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
Anyway, the best solution is implementation of the law but regardless of any consideration; according to the Criminal Code, any kinds of action such as  threats, defamation, harassment, pressure on the voters, candidates, observers, media  staffs or  bribery to influence the electoral process will end up to five years imprisonment. In addition, receiving any forms of financial assistance from illegal or foreign sources will be punished for up to five years’ imprisonment.
It is also mentioned in the Criminal Code that for the purpose of concealing the forms, the results sheets and the ballot papers will have three years imprisonments, and the perpetrators of buying and selling the ballot, changing or disposing of election documents, including the book of records, results papers and ballot papers in opposition or in interests of any nominees will be sentenced to a medium term imprisonment of three years, and the prevention of observers, watchdogs and the media will be convicted to short term imprisonment.
Based on the public demand and criticism, the ministry of interior promised that the arrests will be going on and several others against whom already filed complain will be arrested soon. Any impunity from implementation of law will it leave its worse consequences in the next elections. The election crimes specified in the electoral law of the country and the punishment thereof are included in Chapter 6 of Articles 422 to 435 of the Penal Code. It is also mentioned that any perturbing action or withdrawal from action will also be considered as electoral crimes.
The new government proceed has caused some optimism in the community; Vedir Safi, a professor at the law and political science of faculty at Kabul University, considers the arrest of individuals involved in election offence or crime is effective. He urges the government to enforce the law above these people, because if the rule of high electoral fraud and wrongdoing is implemented, Afghanistan can have better elections in the future, because the punishment for these people will be a lesson for others. According to him, if the law is not applied on the offenders, in addition to the fact that the next election will be full of fraud, the prestige  of the government will also be damaged and lose its credibility among the people.
To end with, creating transparency and ensuring fair and free election is the right of citizens in democratic systems. Hereon, the IEC is the first accountable entity to help justice system for clearance of what has damaged the voting process. Almost, everyone has a question why the shortcoming of election repeated in second and in the third day of election. Why they could not overcome the shortcoming in the next days as most polling canters opened at ten o’clock or later and in some cases, the biometric devices were not operating well; the same mistakes repeated in Qandahar after a week. What is the guarantee it may not repeat in the next elections. Because of over-repetition of mistakes, it is hard to restore the public trust unless apply the law over the big and small electoral offenders and criminals.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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