Afghan parliamentary election, 2010

Afghan parliamentary election, 2010

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The Afghan parliamentary election, 2010 to elect members of the Wolesi Jirga took place on 18 September 2010. The Afghan Independent Election Commission - established in accordance with the article 156 of the Constitution of Afghanistan
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

 for the purpose of organizing and supervising all elections in the country - postponed the poll from its original date of 22 May to September 18.

The results were delayed on several occasions, but were finalised on October 31. The Taliban issued a direct threat to all those involved in the Wolesi Jirga elections.

Campaign


The campaign period kicked off on June 23 and ran until September 16. On June 23, 2010, the full list of candidates was announced; 2,577 candidates filed to run, 405 of them women.

On July 7, 2010, the Electoral Complaint Commission announced that it had disqualified 36 candidates because of ties to illegal private militias. However, according to critics "the net caught a few small fish while the sharks swam around it". Sima Samar
Sima Samar
Dr. Sima Samar OC is a politician in Afghanistan, who served as Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003...

, who heads the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission is an Afghan organisation dedicated to the preservation of human rights and the investigation of human rights abuses....

, said she was concerned that there were alleged war criminals on the candidate lists.

Security


"We urge people not to participate in the election. Everything and everyone affiliated with the election is our target -- candidates, security forces, campaigners, election workers, voters are all our targets," said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid
Zabiullah Mujahid
Zabiullah Mujahid is one of the self proclaimed spokesmen for the Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. He has acted as a media conduit between the isolationist rebel forces and Western media teams. He was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter...

.

Three candidates were killed during the campaign period while there have been several attempts on the lives of others, some of which have resulted in the deaths of campaign workers.
In a tally kept by the Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan, eleven campaign workers have been killed since late June.

Polling centres


On August 18, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission announced it would open 5,897 polling centers for the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections. This is 938 fewer than the original plan to have 6,835 centers opened.

The decision on whether to open or close polling centers is a matter of debate but the IEC says decisions on the polling centers was made in conjunction with the country’s security agencies and on September 5 said it was too late to open more; a view supported by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and Democracy International.

On September 8, the IEC said a further 81 polling centers would remain shut in eastern Nangarhar province. This brought to 1,019 centers closed, which is almost 15 per cent of the preliminary list of 6835.

Voting system


The voting system used for the Wolesi Jirga elections is Single Non-Transferable Voting (SNTV)
Single non-transferable vote
The single non-transferable vote or SNTV is an electoral system used in multi-member constituency elections.- Voting :In any election, each voter casts one vote for one candidate in a multi-candidate race for multiple offices. Posts are filled by the candidates with the most votes...

. The system allows for candidates with as little as less than one percent of the vote to be elected. There has been calls to review the use of SNTV as it impedes the development of political parties and prevents fair and accurate representation of Afghanistan’s diverse population.

During the 2005 Wolesi Jirga elections, all but three provinces had a majority of votes go to losing candidates under the system of Single Non-Transferable Voting.

Candidates


There were 2,584 candidates on the ballots for the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections, across 34 provinces and a country-wide electorate for the nomadic Kuchi tribe.

Some 406 candidates were women, who are allocated at least 68 seats.

Notable incumbent candidates include: Ramazan Bashar Dost
Ramazan Bashardost
Ramazan Bashardost is Afghanistan's former Planning Minister, a current member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan and was an independent candidate in the Afghan presidential election, 2009.- Early years :...

, who came third in the 2009 Afghan Presidential election; Younus Qanooni
Yunus Qanuni
Yunus Qanuni is a politician in Afghanistan. An ethnic Tajik from the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, Qanuni is the leader of the Afghanistan e Naween political party and former Speaker of the House of the People .-Pre Election...

, runner-up to President Hamid Karzai in the 2004 presidential election and the inaugural Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga; Shukria Barakzai
Shukria Barakzai
Shukria Barakzai is an Afghan politician, journalist and entrepreneur, and a prominent Muslim feminist.-Early life:She was born in 1972 in Kabul, Afghanistan...

, a vocal supporter of women’s rights; and Mullah Abdul Salaam Rocket
Mullah Salam
Mullah Abdul Salam, is a warlord in Zabul, Afghanistan. He earned the nickname "Mullah Rocketi" for his dedicated use of high-tech weapons when leading forces against Soviet troops during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan...

i, a former jihadist who earned his name from his skill in shooting rocket-propelled grenades during the Soviet occupation. All three of them are standing again for one of the 33 seats assigned to Kabul province.

Other candidates for Kabul include: comedian Zamir Kabuli, who is famous for ridiculing politicians; Farida Tarana, a 29-year-old former female contestant on Afghan Star
Afghan Star
Afghan Star is a 2009 documentary film following four contestants in the Afghan music competition, Afghan Star. Afghan Star was directed by Havana Marking and is distributed by Zeitgeist Films.-Plot:...

, the local equivalent of American Idol
American Idol
American Idol, titled American Idol: The Search for a Superstar for the first season, is a reality television singing competition created by Simon Fuller and produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment...

.

Controversy


Reflecting on the disputed previous presidential election
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

, in December 2009 representatives of donor states expressed worries and even suggested that voting should be postponed. Since the violence and the accusations of fraud that accompanied the 2009 election, another round of voting was expected to do more harm than good. The planned election might lead to a new campaign of violence by the Taliban to intimidate voters. The United Nations, the US and election observation missions, including one representing the European Union, had asked the Afghan government to refrain from further elections until it had written a new election law and created a list of registered voters.

U.S. Congressmen visiting Kabul that month also urged President Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 to delay until electoral reforms were in place. Otherwise, Afghanistan could risk American financial support. Karzai insisted that the elections had to be held in May, despite concerns about their credibility.

On January 24, the election authorities in Afghanistan decided to postpone the elections until September 18, due to "security concerns, logistical problems, and insufficient funds". Using a loophole in the Constitution, the Karzai administration
Karzai administration
The Karzai administration is the official government of Afghanistan under President Hamid Karzai, who became the head of state of Afghanistan in December 2001, after the Taliban government was removed. He was appointed at the 2002 Loya Jirga as the Interim President of the Afghan Transitional...

 unilaterally rewrote the election law, and Karzai put it into effect by a decree
Decree
A decree is a rule of law issued by a head of state , according to certain procedures . It has the force of law...

 on February 13, 2010. Under this new version, the five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), would be chosen by the president after consultation with the parliamentary leadership. Previously, three of the seats were held by foreigners appointed by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the other two members were Afghans. On March 31, 2010, the Lower House of the Afghan parliament rejected this change.

In a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace
United States Institute of Peace
The United States Institute of Peace was created by Congress as a non-partisan, federal institution that works to prevent or end violent conflict around the world...

 (USIP) on May 17, 2010, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

 warned that another rigged election would be catastrophic, even more than the discredited presidential election in August 2009 from which he dropped out.

On August 13, 2010, Staffan de Mistura
Staffan de Mistura
Staffan de Mistura is a long-serving Italian-Swedish diplomat. After a 36 year career in various UN agencies, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon appointed him as his Special Representative for Iraq on 11 September 2007...

, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

's special representative for Afghanistan, called upon the Afghan security forces to show heightened vigilance, referring to widespread intimidation of female candidates, the killing of three candidates and other violence directed against candidates. The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) stated that observers were based in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan to observe the campaigns at the provincial level, and volunteer observers in many districts as well.

Starting June 2010, FEFA published monitoring reports into the election campaign, in which it catalogued examples of violence against candidates or misuse of government resources. FEFA called on the Afghan government and Afghan and international security forces to take action against individuals perpetrating electoral violations and act decisively to protect voters and candidates and voters ahead of the parliamentary elections. In the report about the launch of the 2010 election campaigns, the FEFA detailed illegal actions of candidates, increasing attacks against candidates and campaign workers, and widespread intimidation of women. Warlords
Warlords
Warlords may refer to:* The plural of warlord, a name for a figure who has military authority but not legal authority over a subnational region.* "WARLORDS", the call sign of a United States Navy Helicopter squadron based in Ayase city, Japan....

, the Taliban and rival candidates were blamed for the intimidation and already at least eight people had been assassinated in relation to the upcoming elections, including three candidates. According to some candidates the security situation was worse than with the 2009 elections, despite the arrival of the reinforcement of 30,000 American troops. Nader Nadery, Commissioner at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and director of FEFA, said that there was more intimidation, more attacks on female candidates and other candidates. "Areas in the south are becoming more and more insecure and areas in the north are becoming more and more intimidating for the weaker candidates." According to Mirwais Yasini
Mirwais Yasini
Mirwais Yasini is the current First Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament. Following the Communist coup in 1978, Mirwais Yasini worked actively to combat the Soviet invasion, and went on to oppose the Taliban from 1993 to 2001 as a social and political activist...

, former deputy speaker of the Lower House and a candidate in Nangahar Province, in several districts it was impossible to campaign.

There were also reports of thousands of fake voter registration cards in circulation that threatened the credibility of elections.

Following the 2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
The Dove World Quran-burning controversy arose in July 2010, when Terry Jones, the pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., declared he would burn 200 Qurans on the 2010 anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Media coverage resulted in international...

, the UN's top diplomat in the country said the ensuing protests could force the delay of parliamentary elections.

Fraud prevention


The Independent Election Commission endeavored to prevent the massive fraud that marred 2009's presidential elections, in which one million ballots for President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 were ruled invalid.

The IEC sacked 6,000 election workers and tightened the security measures surrounding ballot boxes by introducing a computerized tracking system.

However, it was expected that fraud would still occur and would be hard to spot, according to election observers Democracy International.

Election


On election day, at least fourteen people were killed amid UN and US warnings that security and fraud were major concerns at the election. The Taliban also fired rockets in several cities including Kabul and set off bombs at a polling station and by the governor of Kandahar's convoy.

A Taliban website said that upwards of a hundred attacks had been carried out, though these claims were not confirmed; election authorities, however, said that the elections as a whole had been safe. The organisation that monitored the elections, the Free and Fair Elections Foundation, said that "[t]hough there were numerous attacks, none were severe enough to disrupt voting on a wide scale."

Fraud was also a concern, as some people were discovered trying to cast over a thousand illegitimate votes on behalf of candidates. Some officials were accused of taking bribes; and permanent ink was used to mark the fingers of those who had voted so as to identify and prevent multiple votes.

The total turnout of voters was estimated to be almost 3.6 million out of a total of more than 10 million eligible voters. The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 said that if five million people voted, the vote could be considered a success, given the difficulties of holding an election during a war. The head of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said that he would consider the election a success if more than three million people voted, a tally that came to pass. Out of a planned 5,816 open voting locations, authorities said that 92% had opened as scheduled, while the remainder had not opened due to security concerns. The turnout was reported to be light due to Taliban threats. However, the violence was also a lot less than expected.

Result


On September 26, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) ordered recounts at locations in seven provinces, but left open the possibility of ordering recounts in other provinces. The recounts were ordered in Kunduz, Balkh, Takhar, Badakhshan and Parwan provinces in the north and northeast, Logar and Khost. At least five polling centres in eastern Khost province were declared invalid.

Preliminary results for all 34 provinces were originally due on October 8, but were unexpectedly put off citing the need to be "more accurate and precise." However, they would still be subject to confirmation after the Electoral Complaints Commission adjudicates on its legality. Final, certified results were released on October 31.
The MPs are made up of: (39%) 96 Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, (25%) 61 Hazaras, (21%) 53 Tajiks, (6%) 15 Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

, (3%) 8 Aymāq, (3%) 8 Arab
History of Arabs in Afghanistan
The history of Arabs in Afghanistan spans over one millennium, from the 7th century Islamic conquest when Arab ghazis arrived with their Islamic mission until recently when others from the Arab world arrived to defend fellow Muslims from the Soviet followed by their liberation by NATO forces...

, (1%) 3 Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, (1%) 2 Nuristanis, (1%) 1 Baloch
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

, 1 Pashai and 1 Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

.

Pre-result reaction


President Karzai responded to the allegations, saying "[it]t is early for us to make concrete judgment ... as far as the quality of the election is concerned, and organization, this is too early to judge. The president and government will make judgment after the relevant organisations have concluded their work."

Fraud allegations


Additionally, more than 100 complaints of fraud were filed in the first weekend, with another 1,300 complaints submitted orally, though the election commission said that they would not be reviewed unless they were put into writing. By September 26, 3,460 complaints had been received by the Electoral Complaints Commission.

Many candidates demanded a suspension of the vote because of allegations of fraud and vote-rigging.

The election commission voided more than 20%, or 1.3 million, of the ballots, after fraud investigations.

Twenty-one elected parliamentarians were also disqualified due to fraud. A spokesman of the electoral commission said that 19 of the candidates were winning or leading their races, while two others had failed to win seats.

Despite ongoing allegations of fraud and disqualifications, Karzai agreed to open parliament if the said controversies were not brought up.

On 23 June 2011, a special tribunal led by Sidiquallah Haqiq and set up by Karzai to probe election irregularities declared the election of 62 MPs void and others elected in their stead, about a quarter of the races in the election. The MPs have the right to appeal to the Afghan Supreme Court
Afghan Supreme Court
Stera Mahkama or the Afghan Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Afghanistan. It was created by the Constitution of Afghanistan, which was approved on January 4, 2004...



On August 21, 2011, The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission announced at a news conference that nine members of Parliament would be removed and that nine candidates, previously disqualified over electoral irregularities, would have their seats restored.

External links

  • Website of the Afghan Independent Election Commission
  • Afghan2010.com - an election information website run by Democracy International