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2010 Parliamentary Elections & Risk of Fraud

2010 Parliamentary Elections & Risk of Fraud

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Published by CFC Cimicweb
In 2009, the presidential and provincial council elections were characterized by widespread fraud, which in turn was a critical blow to the Afghan government’s legitimacy. The September 18, 2010 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are a crucial test for the government of Hamid Karzai. This document provides information regarding the pretext of the elections.
In 2009, the presidential and provincial council elections were characterized by widespread fraud, which in turn was a critical blow to the Afghan government’s legitimacy. The September 18, 2010 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are a crucial test for the government of Hamid Karzai. This document provides information regarding the pretext of the elections.

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Published by: CFC Cimicweb on Sep 12, 2011
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14 September 2010
Governance and Participation18 September 2010 Parliamentary Elections and the Risk of Fraud
 Anne-Catherine Claude- Governance and Justice Knowledge Manager(anne-catherine.claude@cimicweb.org)  (www.cimicweb.org) 
 The September 18 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are a crucial test for the governmentof Hamid Karzai. In 2009, the presidential and provincial council elections were characterized bywidespread fraud, which in turn was a critical blow to the Afghan
government’s legitimacy. Thecountry’s
deeply flawed polls have significantly eroded public confidence in the electoral process
and in the international community’s commitment to build
ing a democratic Afghanistan. According to the International Crisis Group and other organisations, due to massive fraud, the Electoral Complaints Commission(ECC)had to disqualify nearly a quarter of the overall votes (1.2 million
) cast, the vast majority of which were for Hamid Karzai.This is the second Afghan-led election to take place, with continued support from theinternational community. In line withUnited Nations Security Council Resolution 1917 (2010), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA )is providing overall coordination and support for the elections. Through the programme Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacityfor Tomorrow(ELECT), the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP)takes the lead in coordinating international support for the Independent Election Commission
 (IEC)electoral operations (such as support to the IEC for operational planning, procurement, development of procedures as well as training and logistics). UNDP also coordinates support related to otherareas of the election, including, for example, for electoral observers, political parties and themedia.Following the 2009 elections, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - Officefor Democratic Institutions and Human Rights(OSCE-ODIHR )and the European Union Election Observation Mission(EU-EOM), among others, produced comprehensive reports about the elections and put forward recommendations for the 2010 parliamentary elections with a view tostrengthen the process and avoid widespread fraud in the September 2010 elections. Among the most important recommendations given to prevent massive fraud, both the OSCE-ODIHR and the EU-EOM urged the Afghan government to:
Ensure the independence and transparency of the Independent Election Commission(IEC). During the 2009 elections, the IEC failed to implement its tasks in an independentand impartial manner because some of its decisions raised doubts about its neutrality.For instance, the
International Crisis Group 
reported that in some polling stations where
Electoral Complaints Commission
,2009 Presidential and Provincial Council Elections, p.10
there were no observers (either international or domestic), IEC staff  stuffed ballots intoboxes by the thousands. 
Strengthen the accuracy and reliability of voter registration. The creation of a reliableand accurate voter system is crucial to ensure universal and equal suffrage and tosafeguard against fraud. According to theNational Democratic Institute (NDI), in preparations for the 2009 elections, the UN spent over USD 100 million to improve voterregistration, but it appeared that, for example, some candidates paid women inparticular, to obtain multiple voter cards because no photo is required for the femalecard. The EU-EOM also reported that updating voter registration in 2009 resulted in the issuance of some 4.7 million additional voter cards, which together with the previous12.5 million meant that well over 17 million voter cards were in circulation. Of these,several millions are likely to have been duplicates. A biometrics-based mechanism todetect multiple registrations was put in place to prevent this occurrence. However, theIEC did not manage to complete the database before the elections, but it wasnevertheless already helpful in identifying duplicates.
To re-establish the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in preparation for the 2010elections and make it a permanent body. In 2009, the ECC was a temporary body set upto deal with electoral offences, complaints and challenges.
It was composed of fivemembers, three internationals appointed by the United Nations Special Representativeof the Secretary General in Afghanistan and two Afghans appointed by the SupremeCourt and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The ECCplayed an important role in the 2009 elections as it invalidated almost a quarter of thevotes and received a total of 2,639 complaints
arising directly out of polling andcounting, as well as complaints or appeals against the preliminary results, once thesewere released by the IEC.
In light of the upcoming parliamentary election, the Afghan government, President HamidKarzai and the IEC have been addressing some of the shortcomings from the previous electionsto ensure free and fair elections in 2010, but many questions remain if that will be sufficient toprevent massive fraud.Following the disastrous elections in 2009, President Hamid Karzai appointed, in April 2010, anew Chairperson to lead the work of the IEC
. Even if the chair of the IEC is still solelyappointed by the President, the new Chair,Fazel Ahmad Manavi is seen as being more
Article 57.2 of the 2005 Electoral Law stipulates that the ECC should discontinue its work 30 days after the certification of the results.
Complaints included: allegations of ballots stuffing, poor quality ink, malfunctioning of the voter card puncher,intimidation of voters, obstruction of candidates, agents and observers and accusations of fraud committed bypolling staff or local authorities as well as immense discrepancies between the low participation on election dayand the number of votes recorded in the results forms.
,article one hundred fifty seven, “Members of this Commission(the IEC) will be appointed by the President”.
independent from the president than his predecessor, Azizullah Ludin. Previously, in February2010, the IEC haddismissed 6,000 staff members,who were involved in fraud cases and prevented them from ever working in future elections.Hamid Karzai however, tried to weaken the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) and modify the electoral law in a way that would allow him to appoint all five Afghan members of thecommission. This attempt was rejected by the 
 and therefore, the ECC members stillinclude two international members (versus three before) but some observers fear that the ECC has lost some of the power it previously held. According toCandace Rondeaux of the International Crisis Group, since the number of international members was reduced, the tworemaining internationals will not have the same impact they had in the last elections and arelikely not to be in a position to voice certain complaints or concerns.Based on lessons learned from the 2009 elections,the IEC is implementing a number of  anti- fraud measures to ensure the integrity of the election process so that the results are acceptedas credible by the Afghan population. Indeed, the IEC has identified polling stations well inadvance to ensure sufficient logistics and security support. The final list of polling stations to be open on election day was published on 18 August 2010 and it was agreed that this numberwould not be changed, even if the IEC chose to close some additional stations ahead of theelections due to security concerns. Such specific measures are aimed at reducing the risk of ghost polling stations
. The IEC also took significant steps to control printed ballots; provide training to candidates
agents and election observers; tally votes quickly to avoid manipulation;make results forms tamper resistant; and address and resolve complaints quickly. Another round of voter registration took place between 13 June and 12 August, but accordingto
and the
the process was nottransparent as, for instance, some parliamentary candidates in Kabul had been bringingresidents from other provinces to the capital city to register for voter cards to add to theirsupporters on election day.In an effort to ensure women
participation and to prevent fraud involving women
votes,12,000 women have been appointed to check female voters and their voting cards. For the2009 elections, the IEC struggled to hire a sufficient number of women to staff the pollingstations and therefore
, in a significant proportion of cases, women’s polling stations were
staffed by men, making thevoting process less accessible for women.The lack of polling
stations accessible to women also meant that many men were voting on women’s behalf, oftenexploiting women’s participation rights to carry out fraudulent practices.
 Nevertheless, despite these precautionary measures, international observers still believe thatthe elections will be characterised by widespread fraud, and according to 
,fraud will bemore difficult to track down. Indeed, the election this year will take place at the provincial leveland not at the national level, making only a small numbers of votes a deciding factor in who will be elected.Some candidates have expressed concern that local representatives might
In 2009, observers complained about dozens of  
,which were closed to voters because of security concerns but still reported results back to Kabul.

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