President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday issued a decree on elections to prevent any interference in the election process and to ensure the process is held in a safe and transparent environment.
This comes amid growing complaints over government’s “lack of commitment” in terms of holding transparent parliamentary elections in October.
Reading out the president’s decree, Haroon Chakhansuri, Deputy Chief of Staff and Spokesman to the president, said at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday that elections will be held as scheduled and that all necessary measures have been taken to streamline the process.
According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 20 while presidential elections will be held next year, on April 20.
Chakhansuri said the decree has been issued “to prevent government officials’ interference in elections”.
He said officials, military personnel and MPs have to refrain from interfering in election affairs.
The decree stipulates that it has been issued to ensure government officials and institutions’ impartiality in elections, ensure better security of the electoral process, prevent any disorders and misuse of the electoral process and ensure proper grounds have been provided for large numbers of voters to participate in the electoral process, a statement issued later Tuesday by the Presidential Palace said.
The decree reads:
• Officials and employees of government departments including military, defense and civilian institutions, judiciaries and the Supreme Court officials must avoid interference in parliamentary and district council elections.
• Defense and security forces must not enter voter registration, polling and vote counting centers arbitrarily. They can get permission of responsible officials in case of need.
• Taking guns into voter registration, polling and vote counting centers is forbidden.
• Security and defense forces must ensure the security of officials and the central and provincial offices of the independent election commission and the independent electoral complaints commission, voter registration centers, polling stations and vote counting centers.
• Security forces must prevent the entrance of security guards of government officials and irresponsible armed individuals to voter registration centers, polling stations and vote counting centers.
• Government officials cannot use government resources in the electoral process in favor or against one or more candidates.
• Ministry of Interior Affairs is responsible to deploy enough female police force members in order to ensure more presence of women in elections.
• The Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission should inform relevant offices in case of any interference by officials in elections.
• Security and defense institutions must legally act against violators of this decree and send them to judicial organizations.
• Head of the relevant committee shall report to the Presidential Palace on the implementation of this decree.
In addition, Chakhansuri said at the press conference that the Afghan government calls on the public, the media and election monitoring organizations to cooperate with them in their efforts to implement the president’s new decree on the elections.
He also mentioned President Ashraf Ghani’s meetings with political figures and former Jihadi leaders, and said the meetings are aimed at discussion various issues.
“The main aim of President's meetings with political parties, Jihadi leaders and different groups of the society was to consult on elections, the peace process, ceasefire and reforms in the security sector,” he said.
Chakhansuri commented on a recent decision made by a group of political parties on elections – who said they will boycott the process if their demands are not met.
“The individuals who talk on behalf of people, should realize that the people have a strong will to participate in elections,” he said.
Chakhansuri said government sees no distinction between insurgents after being asked about a group of Daesh fighters who surrendered to government forces in Jawzjan last week.
“It’s clear that for the Afghan government, there are no good and bad terrorists,” he said. “Government will follow the legal procedures against them (Daesh group that surrendered in Jawzjan) and will act according to the law.”