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‘Minimizing electoral districts not implementable’

‘Minimizing electoral districts not implementable’

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Feb 19, 2017 - 19:43

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Election observers on Sunday said minimizing electoral districts in some provinces was ‘incorrect’, asking the government not to approve it.

Gula Jan Abdul Baday Sayyad, secretary and spokesman of the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon), said the commission was sending the draft plan of minimizing electoral districts to the Presidential Palace for approval in the next few days.

He refused to share details of the plan: “We will refer our draft plan to the Presidential Place, but we cannot share information about it until the government approves it.”

About a draft plan aimed at reducing election cost, he said: “This plan is under process but it depends on approval of the draft plan for minimizing electoral districts.”

The IEC is expected to provide voter lists and schedule for the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon and district council elections once its draft plans are approved by the government.

The election body has recently said the president has assured donor countries that the Wolesi Jirga and district council elections would be held next solar yearinfo-icon.

However, Mohammad Naim Ayubzada, Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistaninfo-icon (TEFA) chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News that no measures had been taken for holding the elections next year.

“Absence of voter lists, unclear fate of electoral districts, insecurity, and the unfilled IEC secretary slot are major challenges to the upcoming elections.”

Ayubzada said minimizing electoral districts was a great problem for female voters and female candidates. “We suggest that the president should rethink about his order because we are not ready to change electoral districts.”

He believed if the constituencies were changed, it would be injustice to people, suggesting each province to be a single electoral constituency.

Ayubzada said the IEC had decided to minimize electoral zones in large provinces, a decision he called a mistake. He said security situation was unstable in a number of Kabul, Herat and Nangarhar districts. He hoped the IEC would consider TEFA suggestions in drafting its plans.

Yousuf Rashid, executive director of Fair and Free Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), also said the ground for elections could not be paved even if the government approved IEC’s plans.

He said IEC’s plan to divide major provinces into several electoral districts was impossible to be implemented as the plan had both opponents and supporters in the government.

“Even if IEC suggestions are approved, it would be impossible for the commission to hold elections next year because registration of all voters would take several months,” he said.

mds/ma

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