Changes to electoral system seen as impracticable
KABUL: Commentators view demands of political parties for a change in the electoral system to multi-dimensional representation (MDR) and biometric voter registration as impracticable.
Heads of different political parties and alliances recently slammed the voter registration process as inappropriate and engineered. They demanded fresh registration of voters, using the biometric system.
At a meeting, leaders of major parties stressed the need for transparency in the upcoming polls. To achieve the objective, they suggested changing the current single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system to MDR.
The meeting was attended by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan, Salahuddin Rabbani, Jamiat-i-Islami chief, and Mohammad Mohaqiqi, the Wahdat-i-Islami leader.
Younis Qanoni, representative of the Herasat and Subat Front, Batoor Dostum, head of the Jumbish Milli, Syed Hamid Gilani, chief of Mahaz-i-Milli, Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, Jabha-i-Nawin leader, and others were also in attendance.
In the MDR system, the vote of one person can be transferred to another, one party to another and several individuals or parties can come together in the form of a coalition. By agreement, one or more people can succeed in a constituency.
But political observers believe the proposed system would not work in the present situation.
Yousuf Rasheed, director of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), said the demand of political parties be considered. Undoubtedly, he added, the call was reasonable but implementing the demand would be time-consuming.
In the given circumstances, he said, declaring the voter registration process null and void would mean the political parties had no regard for the time and resources spent on the election process over the past five months.
According to him, there are other sensible ways to combat corruption, and political parties could review the list of voters instead of putting pressure on the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
“If parties have members of their communities, advocates and supporters, these lists of voters should be studied thoroughly and objectively to determine their accuracy,” he commented.
He argued it was too late to change the system as candidates and political parties had already been registered. Using the biometry system was also impossible and the parties could not insist on it, he said.
Political analyst Mohammad Kabir Ranjbar, referring to Article 83 of the constitution, said: “Such demands raise doubt about these leaders’ support for elections, as a change in the electoral system isn’t possible at this point in time.”
According to Article 83, members of the lower house shall be elected by the people through free, general, secret and direct balloting.
Ranjbar was of the view the party leaders should have held the meeting a year ago to warn of boycotting the vote if the biometric system was not implemented. He claimed the demand was expressive of a foreign agenda.
He thought the parties could prevent the holding of elections by taking up arms. For its part, the government must stand firm and resist unconstitutional demands, which amounted to a crime.
On the other hand, the IEC said complaints and criticism were the right of political parties and citizens. The poll panel insisted it was determined to conduct the elections on time.
Meanwhile, Mirza Mohammad Haqparast, deputy spokesman for the IEC, said the process of voter registration was transparent. In order to increase transparency and prevent fraud, the requisite details have been fed into the voter information database.
About the political parties’ proposals, he recalled, several months ago, members of the commission had held a detailed discussion with certain parties and the time was not ideal to revisit the issue.
On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani said elections would be held according to the law. He opined the use of the biometric system would be impossible.
Ghani termed the participation of political parties in the upcoming ballot as decisive. However, he urged the parties to understand the current situation in Afghanistan.