KABUL (Pajhwok): Two election oversight institutes on Thursday claimed a number of election commissioners and secretaries of election bodies and their advisors had been in contact with presidential candidates and they should be put in quarantine for that reason.
The Election & Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA) and Free Watch Afghanistan (FWA), who jointly monitor the presidential election, say the turnout on the Election Day was lower than 2.7 million voters.
The presidential election was held on September 28. According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), around 2.7 million people participated in the poll.
Habibullah Shinwari, ETWA head, told a press conference here that a number of election commissioners and secretaries of the two election bodies were in contact with presidential candidates and they should be quarantined for at least until the announcement of the election results so their contacts with candidates could be cut off.
“Any type of contacts of election commissioners or leadership with candidates can pave the ground for fraud and push the process into a crisis,” he said.
Without giving details, he said former commissioners appointed as advisors (played the role of agents for candidates) and made a relationship between new commissioners and candidates in the election commissions.
He also asked candidates not to claim victory ahead of the announcement of the final election results as premature statements in this regard could lead to a chaos.
Shinwari called the September 28 election better than the 2014 election but said problems plagued the process.
Candidates’ lack of programs, public mistrust on election commissions, militants threats, insecurity and mistakes from past elections were problems in the presidential poll, he said.
“We do not endorse the IEC statement when it says 2.7 million people participated in the election,” he added.
He said voter lists were not present at 853 polling sites, there were problems in voter lists at 675 sites, biometric devices encountered malfunction at 45 percent of polling stations and 20 percent of women’s polling sites were employed with men workers on the Election Day.
Mobinullah Aimaq, head of FWA talking at the conference, endorsed Shinwari account and said four candidates including Ashraf Ghani, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Rahmatullah Nabil started their campaigns earlier than the official date and supporters of Ghani and Abdullah encouraged people on the Election Day to vote for them.
Without giving details, he said Ghani and Abdullah’s electoral teams used government resources for their campaigns.
He accused candidates of having no programs during their campaigns and said, “One of the reasons of low turnout on the Election Day was lack of programs with candidates as most of them attacked each other.”
Most of government services were dedicated to the two leading candidates, Ghani and Abdullah, during the election campaign, he said.
Mohammad Rafi Seddiqi, head of the IEC media committee who was also present in the conference, said that only biometric votes were acceptable as valid.
He also said candidates’ campaigns were not programs-centric but blame-centric.
Seddiqi said candidates and media who violated electoral law during election campaigns would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

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