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Building Markets hosts a Discussion on Independence, Impartiality and Professionalism of the Electoral Commissions

AuthorSharif Samsor

Following the previous event on electoral issues in Afghanistan, on 23 January Building Markets hosted a Discussion on Independence, Impartiality, and Professionalism of the Electoral Commissions for Afghan Civil Society. The discussion took place at the Kabul Star Hotel in Shar-e-Naw – Kabul, Afghanistan. The discussion was widely attended by representatives from member organizations of the Afghan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN), civil society representatives, several international organizations, foreign embassies in Kabul, and local print and broadcast media.

Since 2013, Building Markets has provided capacity building support to CSOs working on electoral issues, and intends to strengthen a coalition of civil society actors to help pave the way for a transparent and fair election in Afghanistan. Neutrality, independence, and professionalism of the electoral commissions are issues that encourage the public to participate in the elections.

The panelists included Hon. Dr. Azizullah Ludin, former Chairman of the Independent Election Commission; Hon. Mr. Abdul Rahim Ayubi, Member of the House of People; and Ms. Belquis Roshan, Member of the House Elders.

Panelists of the Afghan Civil Society Discussion on Independence, Impartiality and Professionalism of the Electoral Commissions: Ms. Belquis Roshan, Dr. Azizullah Ludin, Mr. Zekria Barakzai and Mr. Abdul Rahim Ayubi Photo by: Building Markets

The event began with a recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by speeches from the panelists; Dr. Azizullah Ludin was the first speaker of the event, and compared previous elections with the upcoming election. “The Independent Election Commission was never influenced by foreign interventions, although efforts have been made,” he said, adding, “I hope that the upcoming elections in the country are conducted without foreign interventions.”

Participants of the Afghan Civil Society Discussion on Independence, Impartiality and Professionalism of the Electoral Commissions Photo by: Building Markets

The event provided a forum to closely examine credibility during the elections in Afghanistan. This, in part, will depend on how the electoral commissions (Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission) will perform in a highly competitive and tense political environment. The discussion covered types of electoral management bodies (EMBs), Characteristics of independent EMBs and review of the legal framework from the perspective of ensuring independency and impartiality of EMBs.

articipants of the Afghan Civil Society Discussion on Independence, Impartiality and Professionalism of the Electoral Commissions Photo by: Building Markets

Themes that were discussed included the legal framework for EMBs in Afghanistan, the electoral complaints mechanism in Afghanistan, IEC and IECC structure, and responsibilities for ensuring independence, impartiality and professionalism of EMBs in Afghanistan.

The panel discussion ended with a Q&A period between participants and panelists. Currently, Afghanistan is preparing for its presidential and provincial elections which will take place in early April 2014. Presidential and provincial candidates are scheduling to begin campaigning on 2nd February 2014.

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