The Kabul Times.
Politics

Transparent & fair elections to increase people’s cooperation with government

It is determined that the October 20 parliamentary elections is to be held with the use of biometric system that can guarantee transparency of the elections. The election, originally slated for 2015, is more than three years late, and with less than a week to go, it is beset with some security challenges in some parts of the country.
Election campaigns have already started as election posters of the parliamentary candidates are installed everywhere on walls and billboards in big cities in particular Kabul. Election rallies and campaigns are held for the support of the parliamentary candidates in each part of the country.
Although installation of billboards and posters on walls, squares, containers, doors and walls of shops, mosques and some residential houses has created problems to the people, changed the view of Kabul city and polluted streets, roads and sidewalks, the people still go and attend election rallies and campaigns and are interested in casting their vote to their favorite candidates.
A month ago, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani ordered the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) to use ‘modern technology’ to specify the exact number of voters, cooperate with the Independent Election Commission (IEC), security agencies and other relevant institutions in finding the exact number of the registered voters.
In the decree, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the National Procurement Authority (NPA) had been tasked to cooperate with the CSO and other departments in allocation of budget and procurement of the modern technology.
After presidential decree and repeated calls to electoral commissions, IEC has finally agreed to use biometric system on election day. The commission has bought more than 24,000 biometric devices and it is determined that each polling station will be supplied with at least one biometric unit looking similar to a mobile phone that can record voter data and fingerprint so as to ensure voters only cast their ballots once.
According to IEC officials, the devices are easy to use and voter details can be added quickly. They assured that the use of the biometric devices could cut down on the risk of people interfering in the election process.
Making use of biometric system is considered as key to prevent fraud in parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, a number of Afghans believe that the more election commission uses of transparent systems, the more parliamentary election will be transparent and fair.
Previous elections and voting process were not that much transparent due to various problems and challenges facing IEC and the government, but hopes have increased after IEC announced and introduced new biometric system that will be used for election day.
Afghan political experts believe that transparent elections can increase the cooperation of people with government and somehow address the ongoing political and security challenges facing the country. The government is asked to ensure security during the election day and prevent from individuals interfering in elections processes.
Based on IEC statistics, over 2,300 candidates across Afghanistan have nominated themselves to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for October 20. It is also worth mentioning that campaigns of parliamentary candidates kicked off Friday and will continue for 20 days. 
Noor Ahmad Saleem

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The Kabul Times.