National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)

BANTAY NG BAYAN

Namfrel on the upcoming Myanmar election

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The November 7 parliamentary election in Burma (Myanmar) has been getting opposing opinions from both local and international organizations and governments even before the date of the election was announced by Myanmar’s ruling military junta in August 2010.

Many are calling the election a sham because, as required by the country’s new constitution — drafted by delegates handpicked by the junta and approved through a referendum in 2008 — 25% of all seats will be reserved for the military; government departments shall be headed by individuals with military background; and any amendments to the constitution shall have to be approved by at least 75% of legislators. Furthermore, many political parties from non-Burman ethnic groups, and especially opposition leaders, most notably democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, are not allowed to contest the elections. The military junta dissolved Suu Kyi’s party, which has then split into two factions (for and against contesting the election). Foreign media as well as international observers will not be allowed to monitor the election. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming victory in Burma’s 1990 polls — the last time the country had an election. The junta had since ignored the results and locked up Suu Kyi and her party mates. Many of those who are calling for a boycott both from outside Burma, as well as inside (at the risk of being harassed by the military), believe that the 2010 election would effectively nullify the results of the 1990 election, which has been officially recognized by Western governments. The U.S. and other countries have since imposed sanctions against the Burmese government, and have not ceased calling for international pressure on Myanmar to free its political prisoners and to democratise.

Still, some believe that Myanmar should be allowed to hold its election on its own terms, and view the election as one step towards eventual democracy, however unlikely it would be in the short term. They also view the election as one concrete way in which civilians are actually given the rare chance to participate and possibly win seats, however advantageous the constitution is to the military and to the perpetuation of military rule. Some analysts have even said that with the election comes a new government, which would eventually abolish the contentious constitution of 2008 (as Myanmar has consistently experienced in its recent history) and possibly lead to a better form of government.

In the just concluded ASEAN summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, President Aquino called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, a strong statement from an Asian government, especially from the ASEAN. However, the Burmese prime minister reportedly did not make a commitment on the matter. In a press briefing, presidential communications group Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters, “It is disappointing not just for the Philippines, I think, but for many of the ASEAN neighbors, many people in the international community. They would’ve viewed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as a clear indication that the government of Myanmar was serious in taking steps on its roadmap to democracy. The lack of commitment on that was disappointing to the President.” (PDI) In an earlier interview, Philippine foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo called the coming election “a farce.” Even before the summit, the Philippine government has already stated that the election could be considered free and fair only if it would include not only the opposition leaders but also political parties from the country’s other ethnic groups. This is consistent with the United Nation’s recent calls for Burma to free Suu Kyi and the rest of the more than 2,000 political prisoners before the polls, and allow them to contest the election. “Without releasing all political prisoners, then there may certainly be some issue of legitimacy or credibility,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in a recent interview in Phnom Penh. In the ASEAN summit, Carandang also said that President Aquino offered to share with Burma the Philippines’ experiences in transitioning to democracy, citing Filipinos’ peaceful moves to a democratic government. Carandang also told the press that the Burmese prime minister also said that Myanmar was willing to accept observers to its elections. The Philippines has not decided whether to send observers. According to another report, only the foreign embassies and missions already in Myanmar could be allowed to send up to five observers to observe polling stations, upon prior approval by the military government.

NAMFREL as an election monitoring organization believes that Myanmar’s election laws are not conducive to internationally accepted conditions for proper election monitoring and observation. In August, NAMFREL and 10 other election monitoring organizations in the region under the banner of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), released a statement questioning the unfair practices in the electoral process of Burma, and concluding that the coming election “may not be acceptable to the international community since every single development in Burma provides a strong indication of the fact that the military junta is doing all but to hold a democratic election.” In line with the Philippine government’s stand, NAMFREL encourages the Myanmar government to adhere to the internationally-accepted principles of free and fair election to lend credibility to their proposed road map to democracy and to ensure participation of all ethnic and opposition groups. NAMFREL would also be willing to support efforts by the Philippine government to assist Myanmar in its transition to democracy. NAMFREL is cognizant that any change should come from within the country and with the participation of the military as also reportedly acknowledged by Aung San Suu Kyi herself. As a nation that has struggled through the pains of democratization after years of military control, the Filipinos, we believe, would be in a position to lend a hand in a show of solidarity with our Asian neighbors.

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Written by namfrel

October 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Burma

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

Partial results of the 2010 Afghanistan Wolesi Jirga election

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See the partial results from the Independent Election Commission HERE

Notes by Democracy International on the IEC press conference:

Counting

IEC Chairman Fazal Ahmad Manawi reports that the IEC has processed about 2,000 tamper-evident bags at the National Tally Center in Kabul containing polling center vote tallies, and of these 210 have been set aside for further inspection for potential problems. 66.7% of votes from Panjshir province have been recorded; 44.3% from Jowzjan province; 19.2% from Kapisa province; 19.2% from Parwan province; and 14.6% from Samangan province. The total number of votes recorded to date is 4,332,371. After receiving results from all polling centers and stations, the commission will decide which polling center’s ballot boxes need to be quarantined.

Financial Reports

Provincial candidate financial reports have been received from the following provinces: Panjshir, Herat, Wardak, Logar, Takhar, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Jowzjan, Samangan, Parwan, Kapisa, Laghman, Ghor, Kabul, Badghis and Farah.

Provinces that have submitted financial reports of the candidates and are in the database of commission are as follows: Panjshir, Wardak, Logar, Parwan and Kapisa. Some 22 candidates from the five provinces listed above have not submitted their financial reports to the commission.

Candidates

Two candidates from Badakhshan and Kapisa province have received illegal forms of assistance. Six candidates from Wardak, Kapisa and Parwan province have not registered their properties. All of the above will be forwarded to the ECC for further examination.

Written by namfrel

September 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm

ANFREL Interim Report on the 2010 Afghanistan Wolesi Jirga election

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Source: ANFREL

INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION
AFGHANISTAN WOLESI JIRGA 2010

Interim report
September 22, 2010

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) deployed 30 short‐term observers from 11 countries to 11 provinces in Afghanistan to assess the 2010 Wolesi‐Jirga elections in the country. The following interim report covers a period of seven days of pre‐elections and an entire day of polling observation. The views and comments in this report is a reflection of the findings from the 11 provinces, without any attempt to generalize the overall situation during the elections in the country.

SUMMARY

The September 18 election was the second Wolesi‐Jirga in Afghanistan after the 2005 elections that allowed for a legitimate government to be set up. The event was widely viewed as a crucial step to strengthen democratic institutions in the country and a step forward in consolidating democracy amongst different stakeholders in the country. Notwithstanding, the violence, fraud and irregularities, which has marked the elections, it is worth noting that electoral processes so far have been a major factor in the democratic transition of Afghanistan. Although the voter turn out marked with less than 4 million casted ballots.

ANFREL deployed 30 observers to 11 provinces which are Kabul, Parwan, Pansheer, Kapisa, Bamyan, Badakshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Jawzjan, Hirat and Nangarhar from 12 – 25 September, 2010. The observation will continue until the first phase of tallying so as to monitor counting and adjudication of complaints in the provinces. The observers have covered cities and rural areas including prison polling centers in the provinces. They witnessed the proceedings from the opening up to the closing of the polling stations.

The role played by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) and the Government of the Republic Islamic of Afghanistan is commendable particularly in initiating reforms and developing a mechanism to combat frauds and ensure cleaner elections. However, dominations by strong candidates control power on the ground to influence the elections for their benefits, and in many cases expropriating government assets and its machinery has been a key feature of the Wolesi Jirga.

Threat, violence and money‐power are widely acknowledged as an effective strategy to win the electoral battle preventing many candidates to contest the elections freely. In many other cases women and minority groups become the obvious victims of such practices. Vulnerable groups too become affected by intimidation allegedly from AGEs or other parties contesting in the electoral process. Ironically, not too many reports have been filed as those who are victimized by the system, particularly women candidates of the opinion that there would be no solution and complaints or reports from them may only worsen the problem.

Unbalanced campaigns using posters, banners displayed in every nook and corner in the country amongst candidates and political parties since the beginning of the process has been a major feature worrying practitioners of electoral democracy in Afghanistan.

Without limit on regulation for the campaign finance, the wealthy candidates are able to launch their campaign by utilizing mainstream and the alternative media, while the average candidates normally have problems in competing against them. There are many reports that confirm distribution of gifts to woo the voters.

Controversy regarding fake voter cards, which were earlier dismissed by the IEC as “rumors” needs further investigation as there have been instances to prove that voters and powerful people (either candidates agents, village and tribal chiefs) have attempted to use them. Cases of fake voter cards have been reported from Jawzjan and other parts of the country.

The other issue has been the quality of indelible ink, which has been a major concern. In a number of places it was found that the quality of the ink was poor and it could be rubbed off within minutes after applying on the finger. Incidentally, this is one part of the polling process, which acts as the ultimate safeguard to prevent cheating, and multiple voting.

Security issues appeared to be the major challenge to the conduct of the election, as it led to logistics hassles, problems in deployment of election officials and other operations related work. The move by the IEC to close polling centers and polling stations as a measure to prevent frauds is well appreciated, as it was done to protect civilians from coming to any obvious harm. However, it also led to a systemic process of disfranchisement, as many voters’ could not exercise their votes. To add to this is the inadequate distribution of ballot papers in many provinces, which led to many voters to lose their voting rights.

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Written by namfrel

September 22, 2010 at 3:01 am

ANFREL preliminary statement on the 2010 Wolesi Jirga election

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Source: ANFREL

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
September 21st, 2010

More Efforts Needed for Change and Long Term Commitment for Democracy

The Asian Network for Free Elections comprising of 30 citizen observers from 11 countries across Asia, congratulate the people of Afghanistan for their participation in the Wolesi Jirga Election. The September 18th election is another milestone towards strengthening democracy and respect the rule of law. The statement covers the pre‐election phase and voting day assessment by ANFREL observers.

Although the election was marred by a series of security threats and misconduct, the overall Election‐Day environment was relatively encouraging for the future of electoral democracy in Afghanistan. Credit goes to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), polling staff and the authorities for safeguarding the sanctity of the election. The functions and roles of the Election Complaints Commission (ECC), the Election Media Commission (EMC) and the Election Vetting Commission (EVC) have been instrumental in the improvement of the electoral processes.

However, a few important aspects needs mention. These are lack of a level playing field which is evident since there was no limitation on campaign funding, an effective mechanism to control intervention of government authorities and “strong‐men” favoring rich candidates or those that have ties with them. Obviously women and other minority groups are affected by social injustices and unequal competitions.

ANFREL expresses concerns over the disenfranchisement of voters caused by closing‐down of polling centers due to security concerns. The other issue that was a cause of concern was the shortage of ballot papers owing to improper distribution of polling centres in a number of provinces. This led to hundreds of voters losing their voting rights.

However, the strong initiative from the Government of Afghanistan to successfully open 90 percents of the polling centers is highly commendable. Furthermore, the IEC should have measures to prevent people losing their right to suffrage from the disenfranchisement.

Another important factor to note is that despite the assurances by the IEC that the indelible ink was of the highest quality, observers witnessed voters, easily washing off the ink mark on their fingers and using the opportunity to indulge in multiple voting. The alleged large‐scale production of fake voter cards found to be used on the polling day would have provided a safe haven for frauds to take place during the polls. Massive proxy voting also occurred as many women were represented by male, most commonly by their husband.

Finally, we call upon the ECC and PECC to enforce electoral justice by investigating all complaints and concerns of the election stakeholders through proper adjudication channel; fair and transparent process, we also call a full support from the government and the IEC to prove themselves by setting up highest standards in handling allegation of frauds as reflections of its interest to bring justice to the country.

For more clarification, please contact ANFREL Foundation officials:
Ms. Somsri Hananuntasuk (Executive Director) at +93‐(0) 706741869, or anfrel@anfrel.org
Mr. Ichal Supriadi (EOM Director) at +93 (0) 706741850, +93‐ (0) 793606013 or ichal@anfrel.org

Written by namfrel

September 22, 2010 at 2:49 am

ECC statement on complaints period (Sept. 21)

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Source: ECC

Kabul City 21 September 2010

Polling complaints period drawing to an end

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has today reminded the public that it requires sufficient evidence in order to investigate an alleged electoral irregularity fully and accurately. It has therefore called upon anyone who has evidence of an alleged electoral offence to lay a formal complaint.

The ECC asked for the cooperation of the media in reminding the public that today is the last day on which the Provincial Electoral Complaints Commissions (PECCs) and the ECC will accept complaints regarding events which occurred on Election Day. If, however, a complainant did not witness the event personally but came to hear of it later, a complaint may be filed within three days of the complainant learning of the incident. In exceptional cases the ECC may waive the three-day deadline.

Anyone or any organisation with a legitimate interest alleging that an electoral of- fence has been committed may file a complaint with a PECC or the ECC. Complaints, which must be in writing, may be filed at any IEC office, any PECC office or at the central office of the ECC. The ECC or a PECC may also investigate cases on its own initiative.
It should be emphasised that the identities of complainants are treated as confidential.

Electoral Complaints Commission
Shashdarak Koche Afghanhaa, Opposite Setara High School
Kabul, Afghanistan

For further information please visit http://www.ecc.org.af
If questions remain, contact ECC Public Outreach – 079 834 0174/0131 – ecc.media@ecc.org.af

Written by namfrel

September 22, 2010 at 12:24 am

FEFA first preliminary observation report (Sept. 20)

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Source: FEFA

Election Day 2010: First Preliminary Observation Report September 20, 2010

Introduction

The experience of the 2009 elections as undermined by pervasive fraud and high-level malfeasance determined the general expectations of the 2010 parliamentary elections.

Definitively proclaiming how this year’s elections went in comparison to last year’s presidential and provincial council elections will require time, careful analysis of data collected by observers, and consideration of both international standards and the many challenges of holding elections in Afghanistan. Moreover, this year’s elections are not yet over. The electoral process is just that, a process, and it does not conclude with Election Day. The post-Election Day complaints phase has only just begun and the final results are not expected for another six weeks.

On Election Day 2010, FEFA observed voting and counting with nearly 7,000 observers at approximately 60 percent of polling stations nationwide in 3,538 polling centers. These observers reported to FEFA throughout the day by phone and SMS.

At this point, FEFA is ready to make preliminary statements about how the September 18 vote went. At the same time, FEFA urges all stakeholders and the media to withhold “better” or “worse” judgments until the entire electoral process is complete, and to look at different aspects of the elections individually in addition to making assessments of the process as a whole.

The participation of voters and the security arrangements put in place for voting were the most encouraging aspects of Election Day. Against the backdrop of a violent campaign season, millions bravely voted anyway, demonstrating again that the people of Afghanistan are strongly committed to democracy. However, regrettably, a large segment of the electorate was disenfranchised by insecurity and logistical failures. Protecting the integrity of the votes that were cast and bringing the electoral process to a just conclusion should now be the top priorities of all stakeholders.

Security

Attacks by insurgents and powerbrokers against civilians involved in the elections marked the parliamentary campaigns and, on September 18, voters went to the polls after months of warnings of Election Day violence from insurgents and powerbrokers.

The security forces performed their protection duties well overall and are credited with preventing wide-scale disruptive violence and enabling voting in some insecure areas.

Still, many pre-election threats were carried through.

Insurgent Attacks

Observers reported 276 security incidents at and around voting places in 32 provinces that directly affected the proceedings of the election by forcing polling centers to close and limiting voters’ movement. These security incidents occurred in Badghis, Baghlan, Ghazni, Kandahar, Khost, Kunduz, Kunar, Logar, Nangarhar, Maidan Wardak, and Zabul.

Taliban blew up polling centers in Kunar, Khost and Kandahar and captured centers in Badghis, Baghlan, Kunduz and Laghman, shutting down voting in the communities those centers served. Rocket attacks against polling centers in populated areas of Nangarhar and Kunar killed several civilians and sent other fleeing for their lives. In Badghis, Balkh, and Logar, Taliban kidnapped election workers and observers. Some –the exact number is unknown—are still being held, and the bodies of three abducted IEC staff from Balkh were found on September 19.

Powerbroker Attacks

Powerbrokers and their supporters carried out 157 serious acts of violence in 28 provinces with the highest number of incidents reported in Badghis, Daikundi, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, some district of Kabul, Maidan Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Takhar, and Zabul. In some districts of Daikundi, Ghor, Herat, and Nangarhar, gunmen disrupted voting and seized ballot boxes.

Violence against Observers

Observers reported these incidents in the face of direct threats, and several were subjected to violence. Four FEFA observers were assaulted on Election Day by candidate agents and powerbrokers in Daikundi, Farah, Kandahar, Ghazni and Takhar. Two others were kidnapped by Taliban.

Participation

Given the vast differences in security among Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and 398 districts, voter turnout was similarly varied across the country. The regions with the worst voter turnout were those experiencing the most intense conflict –the south and southeast.

Turnout in the rest of the country was low generally but higher in administrative centers, where security forces were most concentrated, than in the rural areas where insurgents could stage more attacks on underprotected populations and powerbrokers could compel the electorate uninhibited.

Even some very insecure provinces saw pockets of high voter turnout. Observers in relatively secure Jaghori district in Ghazni reported moderately high voter turnout in sharp contrast to the reports of very low voter turnout in the rest of the province. Observers in Helmand also reported greater than expected turnout, especially in the provincial center.

The highest voter turnout was reported in the central region and more secure provinces of the north and east. Provinces such as Badakhshan and Bamiyan, with relatively good security in most urban and rural areas, saw large numbers of confident voters, as did less secure Laghman, Nangarhar and Takhar.

Women voters were fewer than male voters almost everywhere, though the ratios skewed most dramatically in the most insecure southern and southeastern provinces, such as Paktika, where many polling centers reported almost no women voters. Within these areas, the disparity between the number of male and female voters was most severe in polling centers without female IEC staff.

Electoral Violations and Irregularities

Intimidation

Electoral violations and irregularities were once again widely registered. Observers reported more than 300 instances of intimidation and coercion of voters, candidates, candidates’ agents and observers by local powerbrokers in 34 provinces. The highest numbers of incidents were seen in Badakhshan, Farah, Faryab, Ghor, Kabul, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Takhar, Uruzgan and Zabul.

Most acts of Election Day intimidation throughout the country were carried out by individuals with known links to illegal armed groups, demonstrating both the shortfalls of the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) and Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) processes and the failure of electoral vetting to identify and exclude from the candidate rolls those individuals most likely to use force to sway the electoral process in their favor.

Fraud took many forms; ballot-stuffing, proxy voting, underage voting, the use of fake voter identification cards, repeat voting, and interference by candidates and officials during voting and counting.

Ballot- Stuffing

Ballot-stuffing was reported in 280 polling centers in 28 provinces, with the highest number of reports in the provinces of Baghlan, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, some district of Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktika and Uruzgan.

Proxy Voting

A problem nationwide, proxy voting was most concentrated in the extremely insecure provinces of the south and southeast, where few women voted but women’s ballots were commonly cast by their male relatives. Observers in 390 polling centers in 24 provinces reported large numbers of proxy votes for women cast by men. Most of these votes were cast in sites where female poll workers were absent. The most serious reports of proxy voting came from Badakhshan, Daikundi, Ghor, Helmand, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Laghman, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Paktika, Uruzgan and Zabul

Underage Voting

FEFA’s observers registered multiple voting by underage voters in 1,259 polling centers in 31 provinces. The most serious cases were reported in Balkh, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Faryab, Ghor, Kunduz, Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Sari Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan and Zabul.

Fake Voter Cards

News reports of fake voter cards printed in Pakistan and Iran and shipped to Afghanistan for use by candidates to commit fraud dominated the election headlines in the week before Election Day. Though police prevented a number of these attempts and made arrests of some individuals possessing fake voter cards, in most cases those in possession of fake cards were let go without being referred to the relevant authorities for further investigation into the origin and intended use of the cards. FEFA’s observers registered the use of fake voting cards in at least 352 polling centers in 22 provinces with the greatest concentration of reports in Ghazni, Ghor, Kabul, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktia, Takhar and Zabul.

Repeat Voting

Repeat voting was reported in 1,228 polling centers in 32 provinces, with the most serious cases reported at polling centers in Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Kandahar, Kapisa, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Paktia, Parwan, and Zabul.

Obstruction of Observers

Obstructing observers was another means used to distort the vote outcome. Observers in Jawzjan, Kabul, Khost, Parwan and Takhar reported that they were barred from polling centers for at least part of the day, ejected from centers by election workers, and harassed by candidate agents.

Election Administration

This year’s poll was the first completely Afghan-run national election, and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) was under pressure to prove that it had carried out reforms recommended after the election administration body was found culpable in the widespread fraud of last year’s elections. It will not be possible to fully assess the IEC’s administration of this year’s elections until much later in the electoral process, but FEFA can comment on some aspects of the IEC’s performance on Election Day.

On the positive side, the IEC, with the support of the security forces, was able to open approximately 90 percent of polling centers nationwide amid daunting security and logistical challenges. However, the IEC still fell far short of carrying out its mandate professionally and impartially in many areas.

Late Openings

Observers reported that 1,500 polling centers opened late. The province with the greatest number of reported late openings Nuristan, with delays in some cases as long as three hours.

Washable Ink

FEFA observers reported widespread failure to provide effectively indelible ink to mark voters’ fingers. In 489 polling centers in 29, the dark ink used to mark the fingers of voters and prevent repeat voting easily washed off. Washable ink was reported most extensively in Badakhshan, Balkh, Ghor, Herat, Kabul, Nimroz, Panjshir, Takhar, and Uruzgan.

Essential Materials Missing

FEFA’s observers reported absence of essential materials in 315 centers in 19 provinces, with serious cases in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Faryab, Ghazni, Herat, Jawzjan, Kabul, Nimroz, Panjshir, Samangan and Sari Pul. According to observers in Lal Wa Sarjangal district in Ghor and district 6 of Kabul, some polling centers in those areas lacked official stamps.

Multiple polling centers in at least five provinces – Balkh, Ghazni, Herat Kabul, and Nangarhar – ran out of ballots while voters were stilling queuing to vote and centers in those provinces closed before the official time. Voters in areas that experienced severe ballot shortages expressed concern that their constituencies were being deliberately disenfranchised.

Logistical failures also included the incorrect dispatch of one province’s sensitive materials to another. For example, election materials for Badghis were sent to Bamiyan by mistake.

Absence of Female Staff

FEFA’s observed registered a complete absence of female IEC staff at 1,062 polling stations across the country, with the largest number of serious cases in Paktia, Paktika and Uruzgan. As previously stated, the absence of female poll workers exacerbated the problem of proxy voting.

IEC Staff Bias

Observers reported that IEC staff violated the principle of non-partiality in their work again. Examples ranged from the relatively minor –providing greater access to agents of favored candidates—to the extreme –closing polling centers and stuffing hundreds of ballots for local powerbrokers. Biased conduct on the part of IEC staff was most prevalent in Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Faryab, Ghor, Herat, Kabul, Kunduz, Laghman, Nangarhar, Parwan, Takhar and Uruzgan. Also troubling was the refusal of IEC staff in many of the affected polling centers to provide complaint forms to voters and candidates.

Delayed Counting

The decision whether to proceed with counting of ballots was decided on center by a center basis, with no single schedule or procedure adhered to throughout the country. While counting was underway shortly after the closing of polls in some areas, in others it was postponed until the next day. FEFA’s observers reported that in 243 polling centers in 25 provinces the counting process did not go ahead in accordance with the procedure and schedule set out by the IEC. Delayed counting raised ballot tampering fears among observers and candidates, as ballot boxes were stored overnight unauthorized locations in many cases.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Taking the aforementioned issues into account, FEFA has serious concerns about the quality of the elections. As tallying begins and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) begins to consider Election Day complaints, FEFA makes the following recommendations.

· FEFA calls on all state institutions, especially the president, to support the impartial and independent operation of the ECC as it identifies and investigates fraud cases and adjudicates complaints.

· FEFA requests the ECC to refer serious fraud, intimidation and violence cases to the proper judicial authorities so those involved in illegal and violent acts are held accountable.

· FEFA urges the ECC to carry out investigations transparently and resist political pressure to expedite complaints adjudication process.

· FEFA calls on the IEC to fully cooperate with the ECC in investigations of fraud and coercion and to resist political pressure to announce the final results early without full verification of legitimate votes.

· FEFA calls on the international community to denounce identified acts of fraud, regardless of their perpetrator, and provide technical assistance to the ECC and IEC in verifying the results of the elections and carrying out investigations.

Written by namfrel

September 21, 2010 at 9:46 am