Media outlets in Kabul have been running stories these days that the Election Commission has been pressurized to alter results. Initially the moves had started from the day when there was postponement of preliminary results again and again. Now it seems like the President himself has stepped in to turn everything upside down. On November 07, the President met the Chief of Independent Election Commission Fazal Ahmad Manawi asking him to remove names of three candidates from the list of winners. They are Ahmad Behzad from Herat, Dr. Latif Pedram from Badakhshan and Dr. Mehdi from Baghlan. They have been staunch critics of President Karzai and now secured huge votes in the second parliamentary elections. The reason why President Karzai is trying to remove these three names from the list is clear. He wants to punish his critics, and block their way into the parliament.
Fazal Ahmad Manawi is under intense pressure from the Palace. The Election Complaints Commission spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafat while talking to journalists on Tuesday has said some ‘circles from within the Govt.’ are pressurizing them to alter the election results. BBC Persian report about him is here. He added these ‘Govt. circles’ want their favorite people, who have lost, get into the parliament. He said the Commission warns these ‘circles from within the Govt.’ through media to stop ‘interference’ in the work of the Commission. He also committed the Complaints Commission would not let these pressure circles to influence and change the results, at any cost.
What Ahmad Zia Rafat has said is a slap on the face of Presidential Palace exposing the truth. Though he didn’t directly reveal the ‘circles from within the Government’ but we know who they are. When the President himself openly expresses concerns on the election results, ask the Election Commission to make extra care in the review process, it tells the whole story. I praise Fazal Ahmad Manawi for his firm stance, honesty and sincerity with his job. But it is extremely shameful that Government is trying its best to ruin the whole process. There is intense discussion about this in local Dari newspapers and electronic media, but the international press is silent, or unaware. The champions of democracy, international organizations, the United Nations and embassies are all silent watching how far our cheap leaders will go in their addiction of ruining law and constitutions for personal interests.
The President had also expressed concerns over the entire results from Ghazni province saying such a result will undermine the ‘national unity’. Why? Because the violence and fear of Taliban caused very less turnout in areas of a particular ethnic group, while all the candidates belonging to a minority ethnic group won, thus making all out representation from Ghazni. This is not a blow to the so-called national unity. Should those winners be punished for their ethnicity and the so-called ‘national unity’ at the cost of democracy? Indeed very shameful and ridiculous logic.
The ‘circles from within the Government’ mentioned by Ahmad Zia Rafat are none other than President Karzai’s Chief of Staff Daudzai, who was in international headlines for taking bags of cash from Iran recently, and Minister of Education Farooq Wardak. They are the closest guys to President Karzai in the cabinet and palace. But we know that these ‘circles from within the Government’ cannot dare ask the Election Commission to alter results, unless President Karzai ask them to do so. What the spokesman of Election Complaints Commission did not reveal was the direct involvement of President in this whole saga. Rather he said the President himself is not ‘interfering’ in this process. Then who are ‘the circles from within the Government’ and how dare they can pressurize the Election Commission?
Now that the Election Commission and Complaints Body didn’t succumb to the demands from Palace, some other tactics are being used. Some candidates who have lost blatantly with low votes have been protesting in Kabul against the Election Commission. Some of these candidates are the favorites of the Palace and they are being encouraged to keep the protest demonstrations in order to pressurize the Election Commission.
Even this is not working. Rulers are very angry on the Election Commission Chief and Complaint Commission’s honest officials. Now another tactic is being used. Attorney General has been dragged into this drama. Very ridiculously, The Attorney General’s office has given an ultimatum deadline to Independent Election Commission for allowing it to investigate the invalid votes. The Attorney General, who is as loyal to the Palace as a watchman to the Chief Executive in any office, had said IEC officials will be summoned through security personnel if they did not allow access to invalidated ballots. Initially it was a sundown deadline, but praise to the courage of Fazal Ahmad Manawi and other sincere officials of the Election Commission and Complaints Commission that they have not succumbed to the demands yet. Yesterday Late afternoon the deadline was extended for 48 hours. The Attorney General’s office says under Article 5 of the Government Employees Act, IEC officials will be dismissed!
The ultimatum of the Attorney General’s office is damn ridiculous and condemnable. They have no authority and legitimacy to interfere in the work of the Independent Election Commission or Complaints Commission. But the AG’s office is being used from the Palace.
IEC Chief Fazal Ahmad Manawi has already called on UN head in Afghanistan Steffan de Mistura and notified him of the pressures about the election results. Apparently the UN envy has assured all out support to the Election Commission against any interference from the Presidential Palace, but it seems they will keep watching the drama and stay mute. Their silence so far is very much discouraging. The United Nations office could at least release a statement voicing support for the independence of the Election Commission, condemning the pressure from the Government circles, which has now been officially confirmed by Ahmad Zia Rafat in a press conference.
The Government must take some breath of conscience and come to their minds. This is going too much beyond the limits of public patience. If the Election Commission and Complaints body was kept being pressurized, either they would succumb or there will be a blow to the Government. Mr. Manawi will come in front of media and expose the entire drama. Then there would be no chance for the Palace and others to defend their deeds.