Report of Conference on Releasing the Declaration of Substantive Principles of Electoral Reform

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.

Press Release on Introduction of New Electoral Commissioners

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:

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Rejection of the second presidential decree on electoral reform; a regrettable act

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:

Wolesi Jirga Final Decision on Presidential Decree

Wolesi Jirga as house of people is supposed to make a historic decision regarding the presidential decree on amendment of the Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of Electoral Commissions tomorrow. Considering the experience of 2014 elections, the need for holding a free and fair election and increasing public trust on national processes including election the National Assembly specially Wolesi Jirga is expected to play a historic role in electoral reform process. The previous decision of National Assembly regarding the rejection of presidential decrees on amendment of the electoral law faced serious criticisms of people. Beside, government the national assembly is also responsible for delay and ambiguity of electoral reform process. The rejection of presidential decrees on electoral reform by the National Assembly led to prolonging of ambiguities on electoral reform and holding of upcoming parliamentary and district council elections. Similarly, there are many questions on legitimacy of continuation of work of Wolesi Jirga.
Previously, Wolesi Jirga rejected the presidential decrees on electoral reform which led to continuation of ambiguities on electoral reform therefore FEFA as the largest election observation organization in Afghanistan present the following recommendations to Wolesi Jirga to use the opportunity for implementation of electoral reform:
1. Wolesi Jirga will face serious criticisms if it again reject the decrees and play role in ambiguity of electoral reform process and holding of upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.
2. Wolesi Jirga is recommend to amend the decree instead of rejecting it. Amending the articles for further enrichment of the decree is an acceptable proceeding than totally rejecting the decree.

Bewilderment of legislative decree in parliament and continuation of deadlock ahead of electoral reform process

The Electoral Reform Advocacy Group is made up of representatives from political parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Media organizations. This group is established by technical assistance of Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA). The group has been lobbying for electoral reform and holding free, fair and transparent election since 2014 and monitor the steps taken toward electoral reform. The group acknowledges the government for issuing legislative decrees on electoral reform but believes that lack of pursuing these decrees by parliament is in contradiction to article 79th of The Constitution which states, “In cases of recess of the Wolesi Jirga, the government can adopt legislation in an emergency situation on matters other than those related to budget and financial affairs. The legislative decrees become laws after they are signed by the president. The legislative decrees should be submitted to the National Assembly in the course of thirty days beginning from the first session of the National Assembly. In case of rejection by the National Assembly, the legislations become void.” According the article, after issuance of the decrees, the government was obliged to establish the Selection Committee to prepare the list of candidates of membership at electoral commissions and submit to president.

FEFA

Kartee- 4 Hajari Najari Street, Behind Russian Cultural Institute, House#013

Tel:+93-799 -310664

Web site: www.fefa.org.af

    

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