Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) held a conference in Intercontinental hotel to release the declaration of Substantive Principles of Electoral Reform. The declaration was prepared in cooperation with representatives of political parties, civil society organizations and media organizations in 5 meetings. The representatives of Electoral Commissions, Independent Directorate of Local Governance, Population Census Office and representatives of the president and CEO of government attended this conference. At the beginning of the conference, the executive director of FEFA talked about electoral reform and duties of electoral commissions and emphasized that the electoral commissions must consider transparency, independency and professionalism in their performance. He also added that the new members of electoral commissions must consider election as a national process not a project.
Subsequently, Mr. Naeem Asghari, election programs manager of FEFA, explained the agenda of conference and read the 41 principles of declaration which related to electoral commissions, government, National Assembly, political parties, civil society organizations, media and international community. Then, panelists of the conference, talked about their institutions working programs toward electoral reform. Mr. Mahazullah Dawlati, member of the Independent Election Commission, talked about delimitation of electoral boundary, balancing polling center, invalidation of voting cards, preparation of voters list and reforming the structure of commission. He also added that they will try to institutionalize election and won’t consider election as a project. Likewise, he urged the civil society organizations and media assist the rebuilding public trust on electoral commissions. Subsequently, Ghulam Dastager Hedayat, member of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, promised to use every single opportunity toward holding a transparent election. He added that financial problems is a major challenge in their commission but despite the financial challenges they are pledged to reform the structure of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission and strengthen the performance of secretariat of this commission.
Implementation of electoral reform is a precondition for rebuilding public trust in election and electoral commission. Therefore, the civil society organizations relevant to election, welcome appointment of new members of electoral commissions and consider it a positive step toward implementation of next phases of electoral reform and rebuilding public trust in the electoral commissions and process. However, implementation of other phases of electoral reform and rebuilding public trust depends on performance of new members based on laws and working values of electoral commissions. The Electoral Organizations Joint Working Group present the following recommendations to new members of electoral commissions to successfully implement the electoral reform process, rebuilding public trust in the electoral commissions and break the barriers before coming elections:
The Women and Youth Political Rights Advocacy Groups held their third joint meeting on June 22, 2016 to finalize the declaration of substantive principles of women and youth meaningful participation in election. The meeting began by reviewing the decisions of previous meeting and subsequently the participants discussed the declaration of substantive principles of women and youth meaningful participation in election. The participants recommended addition of following issues in the declaration:
- Misusing the believes and trust of youth;
- Using youth only during campaigns;
- Lowness of youth awareness;
- Warlords disbelieves on youth;
- Lack of preserving of impartiality of electoral staff which causes youth lose their believes on election process;
- Lack of opportunity for youth to take part in election;
- Distrust between youth;
Facilitator of meeting read each principle of the declaration one by one and the participants shared their views on them.
Principle four: creating educational opportunities for youth
The participants recommended the following cases regarding principle four:
- The government must allocate specific budget for youth’s higher education;
- The government must make sure the university entrance exam is held transparently and the participants of this exam enter universities based on their qualification;
- The government have to pave the ground of equal education for youth;
- The Afghans and international community must believe on youth’s abilities;
Principle 15: Providing economical facilities for youth
The participants recommended the following issues regarding article 15:
- Providing economic facilities for youth in election;
- Legal documents must be added in this article;
Principle 16: maintain youth security in election process
Participants recommended following issues regarding principle 16:
- Maintaining security of election is the duty of Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Defense and National Directorate of Security;
- The security forces must maintain the security of areas where the reports indicate are insecure;
- Undertaking special measures to maintain the security of insecure areas;
- Maintaining the security of youth candidates and voters;
- Identifying the security weakness of the country and undertaking logical approaches to eliminate them;
Principle 17: The narcotic elimination programs must be undertaken by Ministry of Anti-Narcotics
Participants recommended the following issues regarding article 17:
- The government must suggest the farmers alternative of narcotic;
- The factors of youth addiction to narcotic must be identified;
- The government must try to solve social and economic problems of youth;
- The government must create work opportunities for youth to prevent youth immigration;
- Along with Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Information & Culture, Deputy of Anti-Narcotic, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Health related institutions must have narcotic elimination programs;
Principle 18: creating work opportunities
Participants recommended the following issues regarding article 18:
- Assessment of youth problems and undertaking of specific measures to solve these problems;
- Identification of level of literacy of youth and providing educational facilities for them;
- The Youth Deputy of Ministry of Information and Culture has to create work opportunities for youth
- The policy making bodies must identify youth challenges and develop specific policies in this regard;
- The government along with international organizations must hold internship programs for youth;
Principle 19: Efforts to encourage people trust on youth’s abilities
Participants recommended the following issues regarding article 19:
- The Deputy of Youth Affairs of Ministry of Information and Culture must have specific programs for institutionalizing trusting youth;
- Youth must begin awareness from their families;
- Youth must prove their abilities in society and make the society believe on them;
Principle 20: Lack of youth access to their basic rights
The participants didn’t have specific recommendations regarding principle 20 and agreed with the contents of this principle.
For the second time, Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) is intended to introduce the successful young figures of the year. Therefore, you are kindly requested to fill up the following form for nominating yourself as successful young figure of the year. The forms are subsequently reviewed by a professional committee and those nominees who meet the criteria of successful young figures will be contacted for interview. Please fill and submitte the form before 30 November 2016 - 11:59 pm.
The Women Political Rights Advocacy Group held a meeting with the advisor of chief executive office on Women & Youth Affairs19 Jun 2016
The Women Political Rights Advocacy Group (WPRAG) held a meeting with the advisor of Chief executive on Women & Youth Affairs. The participants of this meeting were MPs, representative of Ministry of Women Affairs, representatives of political parties and civil society. At the beginning of the meeting, Mrs. Surabi advisor of chief executive office on Women & Youth Affairs welcomed the participants of meeting and urged Mrs. Sima Ghani and Mariam Arween to begin the meeting.
Then, Mrs. Ghani said, “Some time ago FEFA held a survey to identify women challenges and evaluate women presence in political leadership level. The findings of this survey was shared with Mrs. Surabi and then Mrs. Surabi urged for sharing it with all WPRAG members to lobby for increasing women presence in political positions.” Mrs. Ghani added that two advocacy groups had prepared a list of elite women who are qualified for working in high political positions and shared with ministries but their work was not fruitful. “The members of WPRAG wanted to know what are women’s weakness to work change them to strengths so the WPRAG established a working committee to evaluate women weakness and prepare a list of elite women who are qualified for working in high political positions. The working committee succeeded to prepare the list within 4 month and now the list is presented to participants.” She said.
Subsequently, Mrs. Mariam Arween, Women & Youth Outreach Officer of FEFA, thanked the Advisor of Chief Executive Office on Women & Youth Affairs for organizing the meeting and said, “The members of working group of Women Political Rights Advocacy Group were Mrs. Sima Ghani (Member of Women Declaration), Mrs. Omaira Saqib (Head of ACCEN), Mrs. Gul Makai Safi (Advisor to chief executive), Mr. Adila Bahram (Chairwomen of Republican Party), Mrs. Parastoo Yari (Secretary of advisor to chief executive), Mr. Roya Sadat (Head of Roya Film), Mr. Amina (Representative of President Administrative Office), Waheda Rasuli (Representative of AWEC), Mariam Arween (Women & Youth Outreach Officer of FEFA) and Wazhma Azizi (Women & Youth Outreach Assistant of FEFA).”
The committee worked on its working plan in its first meeting and agreed to work on following issues:
- Identifying women weaknesses;
- Identifying the list of legal sources on women quota;
- Identifying donors;
- Preparing the list of universities;
- Identifying provinces where women can work as governor;
- Identifying districts where women can work as district governors;
- Identifying ministries, deputies, general directorates and embassies where women can work at top positions;
“We succeeded to prepare the list of elite women within 5 meetings. We contacted women departments of provinces and requested them to share the list of elite women of their provinces with us.” She said.
Mrs. Sima Ghani said, “We planned to prepare the list soon but due to some problems in Ministry of Women Affairs it took 5 months.” She also said, “We prepared the list but wanted to consult with you on insecure provinces where we have a lot of elite women. We want to add the insecure province in our list in consultation with you and then start our lobbying for the list.”
Subsequently, Mrs. Surabi thanked Mrs. Ghani for giving her time to women and said, “We work for a big aim so Ministry of Women Affairs has to cooperate with us.” She said we must work warily to not face any sensitivity.
Mrs. Ghani added that if women are assigned in higher positions in provinces then the society will become ready to accept them in decision makings.
Mrs. Karokhi, MP, said, “We must consider the situation of country and then take approach to not face any sensitivity.” She also said, “We must acknowledge our weaknesses and try to change them to strengths. Symbolic assignment of women can negatively impact hundreds of young women who are in promotion.”
Mrs. Sajia, advisor to chief executive office said, “The committee has done a great work. We need to work on this list first and then add the other lists to it. We must share this list with ministries.” She promised that the chief executive office can share the list with ministries and set coordination meetings with ministries and the Directorate of Local Governance for WPRAG.
Mrs. Safi, member of WPRAG, said, “The committee must share the list with members of WPRAG and urge them to add their lists to it.
At the end of the meeting the group agreed on following issues:
- Requesting the list of elite women from the Independent Directorate of Local Governance through an official letter;
- Holding a meeting with the Independent Human Rights Commission and Civil Society Network to request the list of elite women from them;
-Holding a grand meeting of the WPRAG chair by Mrs. Habiba Surabi and sharing the final list with members of the group;
- Holding advocacy meetings with president and chief executive
For urgent release/ June 13, 2016
Unfortunately, Wolesi Jirga rejected the presidential decree on amendment of the Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of Electoral Commissions for the second time. This decision of Wolesi Jirga is considered rejection of election and democracy in the country. This irresponsible act of Wolesi Jirga proved that MPs do not value public demands. People expected the Wolesi Jirga to make decision about this decree deeming the prestige of this house and put an end to the electoral reform deadlock. The reports from international meetings/summits on Afghanistan’s electoral reform indicate that the international community is not satisfied with the progress made yet. The international community will make new commitments to Afghanistan and its people in two important conferences (Warsaw and Brussels) but this decision of Wolesi Jirga will negatively impact the support and donations of international community to Afghanistan. FEFA consider this act of Wolesi Jirga deplorable and present the following recommendations to government and Meshrano Jirga of National Assembly:
1. FEFA urge Meshrano-Jirga to not make the decision of Wolesi Jirga about the decree. Meshrano-Jirga is recommended to make decision about this decree in consultation with election relevant organizations, political parties, people and considering the needs for electoral reform and holding of election. The proper decision of Meshrano-Jirga about this decree can solve the problems and pave the ground for electoral reform and holding of election;
2. The government of Afghanistan can again recourse to the Supreme-Court and the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution and urge for interpretation of article 79 of Constitution. FEFA believe that whereas both electoral laws have common basis therefore according to article 109 of Constitution, proposals for amendments of these laws cannot be included in the working agenda of the National Assembly during the year of the legislative period;
3. Proposals for amendments of the electoral law cannot be included in the working agenda
If, all legal approaches face deadlock, the government along with all stakeholders must take a proper and logical approach to solve the problem. This approach must pave the ground for implementation of electoral reform and holding of election;
4. FEFA seriously urge the president and chief executive of the National Unity Government to implement the commitments they have made about electoral reform to people of Afghanistan and international community. They are also urged to prevent complicating the electoral reform issue;
5. The National Unity Government must make a specific decision about the fate and continuation of work of current electoral commissioners. Considering the attempts of commissioners for sabotaging the electoral reform process the continuation of their work as commissioners need a revision;
FEFA urge all citizens of Afghanistan, civil society organizations, civil activists, political elites and political parties to lobby for electoral reform which is a national critical issue and never give up. We must put the necessary pressures on government and other relevant institutions to persuade them for implementation of electoral reform.
According to the Constitution, the government must have held the parliamentary and district council elections on March 21, 2015 but due to delay in commencement of electoral reform process, the election date postponed. Subsequently, the IEC announced August 14, 2016 as Election Day but this announcement was made without coordination with government and electoral stakeholders. Therefore, it faced serious national and international objection. After, postponement of election, the National Unity Government extended the working duration of parliament through a legislative decree to prevent parliamentary gap. Scares from repetition of 2014 electoral challenges led the government consider electoral reform more important than election. However, the leaders of NUG had promised to begin the electoral reform program immediately after structure of their government but they didn’t do so. NUG established the Special Electoral Reform Commission (SERC) one and half year after the structure of government.
SERC prepared two recommended packages on electoral reform and presented them to government for consideration and implementation. The work of SERC ended after presentation of the second package.
The political agreement on structure of NUG has guaranteed implementation of electoral reform. After the second round of 2014 presidential election faced deadlock the two leading campaigns of run-off structured a NUG based on a political agreement. They agreed to reform the electoral system and amend the electoral laws, do census of the population, begin issuance of E-Tazkera, hold Loy-Jirga of amendment of Constitution, and change the political system into parliamentary system through a political agreement. Article 5 of the agreement includes president’s commitment for electoral reform to assure transparency of upcoming elections. The leaders of government promised to establish the SERC to reform the electoral system of Afghanistan before holding the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections. This commission will present its recommendations to chief executive and the chief executive will present it to the cabinet.
Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) granted appreciation letter to members of Electoral Reform Joint Working Group (Political parties, Civil Society Organizations and Media).
The program of granting appreciation letters to members of Electoral Reform Joint Working Group began by recitation of some verses of Holy Quran and then Mr. Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, the executive director of FEFA, appreciated the members of Electoral Reform Joint Working Group for their efforts toward electoral reform. Subsequently, FEFA’s officials presented brief information about FEFA’s activities and planes toward electoral reform and urged the participants to share their views on lobbying for electoral reform with FEFA.
Then, the members of Electoral Reform Joint Working Group thanked FEFA for its attention to electoral reform and holding of free and fair elections and shared their views on electoral reform with FEFA. They announced their readiness for participating and supporting electoral reform programs. The program ended by granting of appreciation letter to members of Electoral Reform Joint Working Group.
May 4, 2016
A delegation of FEFA met with head and members of the Committee on Judicial and Justice of Wolesi Jirga on May 3, 2016. At the beginning of the meeting Mr. Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, executive director of FEFA thanked the committee for organizing the meeting and presented information about the shortcomings of the legislative decree on the Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of Electoral Commissions and then presented FEFA’s recommended package on amendment of the decree to the Committee on Judicial and Justice of Wolesi Jirga. The recommended package of FEFA includes 12 cases and the executive director of FEFA urged the committee to consider FEFA’s recommendations while amending the decree. Currently, the Committee on Judicial and Justice of Wolesi Jirga is working on amendment of the decree hence FEFA presented its recommendations on amendment of the legislative decree on amendment of the Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of the Electoral Commissions to this committee.
Subsequently, the head and members of the Committee on Judicial and Justice of Wolesi Jirga appreciated FEFA for its proceedings toward electoral reform and said that FEFA’s recommendations on amendment of the Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of Electoral Commissions are very important and can help in maintaining the intactness of election. They promised to consider FEFA’s recommendations while amending the decree.