National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)


Namfrel concludes participation in the 2010 Afghanistan Wolesi Jirga election

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NAMFREL participated as election observers in the September 18 Wolesi Jirga (parliamentary) elections in Afghanistan. Senior Operations Associate Paolo B. Maligaya, and Bantay ng Bayan coordinator Kristine Marie D. Tapiz, were deployed as long-term observers in Balkh province and Kapisa province, respectively, as members of the just-concluded observation mission of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL). Meanwhile, NAMFREL National Council member and former Executive Director Telibert C. Laoc, is the mission coordinator of the National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s ongoing election observation mission in Afghanistan.

The 2010 Wolesi Jirga election was the fourth time ANFREL has observed in Afghanistan, first during the 2004 parliamentary elections, then the 2005 presidential elections, and after that last year’s presidential election. For this year’s election, ANFREL deployed 30 volunteers from 11 Asian countries to Central, North, and Northeast Afghan provinces to observe the pre-election, election day, and post-election periods.

Afghanistan’s security situation remained the biggest concern of all international personnel, particularly around the time of the election, severely restricting movement, and even affected schedules, including ANFREL’s. The situation was exacerbated by Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s decree giving ultimatum on the presence of private security personnel in Afghanistan. International organizations depend largely on these security firms, and the decree, and the lack of a definite timetable for the pull-out, was a big concern to international agencies, including election observers.

Afghanistan intimidates its visitors, not just the first-timers, simply because the situation always seems to be changing. When last year, some of us who observed the presidential election were still able to walk freely around Kabul to shop or sightsee without security escorts, this year we had to stay indoors most of the time, and definitely after sundown. UN personnel, targets of past attacks by the Taliban, were not even permitted to leave their guesthouses on the days around election day.

In many provinces, the situation was not as tense as it was in Kabul or in other areas like Kandahar and Nangarhar. In the northern province of Balkh and in Kapisa where NAMFREL observers were deployed, the security was very good, at least in the city areas where most of the popuation live. As in most provinces in the country, the situation was different though in the far-flung districts, where people complained of violence and intimidation, not necessarily from the Taliban but from candidates contesting the elections, especially those believed to be warlords or have connections with militias. Female candidates were especially affected by intimidation from their male counterparts, making many of them unable to campaign or send election day agents to certain areas.

Campaign for this election was noticeably more subdued (at least in the urban areas) compared with last year’s presidential election. On election day, we also noted that the turnout was noticeably lower than last year’s.

For the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections, the biggest concerns for election observers apart from the security situation include the existence of fake voter cards, multiple voting, ink that was washable, ballot stuffing, vote buying, lack of training and voters education, among other things. In order to not pre-empt ANFREL, which would be releasing its detailed observations in the coming days, we will not go into further details regarding the pre-election, election day, and post-election observations of NAMFREL’s observers and their teammates.

Aside from election observation per se, ANFREL was also involved this time in the training of local election observers of the Free & Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) — also an ANFREL member-organization — up to the provincial and even district levels. FEFA deployed thousands of long-term and election day observers all over the country. The training program gave a rare opportunity for the Asian delegates to meet our Afghan counterparts. It was an eye-opening experience. Despite the cultural differences and the situations unique to Afghanistan, the Afghan observers basically have the same concerns like we do: free and fair elections, effective observation, a stable democracy.

As a founding member-organization, NAMFREL has been participating in ANFREL’s election observation missions, starting with the Cambodian parliamentary elections in 1997. ANFREL’s current chairperson is Mr. Damaso G. Magbual, NAMFREL’s Membership Committee chair.

Since its inception in 1983, NAMFREL volunteers have worked as trainers, observer team members, election administrators and resource persons in 31 countries so far. NAMFREL volunteers have been directly involved in the creation of similar election monitoring organizations in some of these countries.

(Note: We will continue giving updates on the results of the Wolesi Jirga elections, as well as terminal reports from other observer groups like ANFREL, FEFA, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Democracy International, as well as Afghanistan’s election agencies — the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). Please follow NAMFREL on Twitter and Facebook.)

Written by namfrel

October 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

One Response

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  1. I do not know what kinda politics you people are playing
    you say that u do not accept people who have done wrong who have cheated by putting people on gun point and saying give me your votes
    and then u declare those cheaters the winners what the hell is this ? Is this our future; anyways what else can u expect from a country like Afghanistan those people who have counted the votes might have been bribed by those people!!!!!

    shut up

    October 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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