Insecurity to bar voters in 62 districts: TEFA

KABUL (Pajhwok): Accusing some government officials of attending campaign rallies in violation of the electoral law, an election watchdog on Saturday claimed people in 62 districts across the country would be unable to participate in next month’s elections due to high security risks.
Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) chief Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada told reporters in Kabul they had been meeting with provincial government officials in Kabul over the past three days conferring on issues relating to the elections.
Issues raised at the meetings included unsatisfactory efforts at creating awareness among the masses about election, the participation of government officials in campaign rallies for candidates and the fewer representation of women in the electoral process, he said, identifying the issues as key hurdles to the ballot.
Ayubzada said their investigations showed 62 districts in 15 provinces continued to be under high security threats, which he feared would restrict residents from casting their votes. There are a total of 364 districts in the country.
Ayubzada said the districts facing high security risks were in Balkh, Nuristan, Nangarhar, Parwan, Kapisa, Baghlan, Badakhshan, Khost, Maidan Wardak, Jawzjan, Sari Pul, Kunduz, Paktia, Takhar and Faryab.
He urged security organs to make their last minute efforts at improving security for polling stations in the mentioned towns.
According to the Ministry of Interior, of the 7168 areas designated as polling centres, 408 sites face security threats.
Without naming anyone, Ayubzada said some government officials were attending campaign rallies and using government resources in favour of their preferred candidates. He said such law violations eroded public trust in the election project and should be prevented.
He claimed some government officials had been observed over the past two weeks going between candidates to form alliances.  Under the law, government officials cannot work as mediators for election candidates.
“Such sittings and actions should be in accordance with the law and it should be revealed where such sittings should take place and who should mediate.”
President Karzai has issued a decree barring government officials from using their positions to strengthen or weaken any candidate.
The decree bans the use of government resources in favour election runners and if used, there should be no discrimination.
Ayubzada said election alliance between presidential candidates would help prevent the vote from going into a second round.
He said TEFA would deploy its 5000 observers, including 1600 females, in all the provinces to monitor the election process and ensure transparency.
He asked the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) to open its offices in provinces at the earliest in order to enable voters to register their complaints.
The IECC is scheduled to formally open its offices in provinces today (Saturday).

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