UN studying proposed Afghan electoral decree

UN Photo/Steve Tickner

24 February 2010 – The United Nations is currently studying a legislative decree that would give Afghan President Hamid Karzai the power to appoint all five members of the country’s Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which is supposed to be an independent body.

According to Afghanistan’s Electoral Law, three of the five members of the Commission – mandated to investigate fraud, as well as provide guidance, technical assistance and support – are internationals appointed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

The remaining two members are nationals, one appointed by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the other by the Supreme Court.

“We hope that this decree is in line with the Constitution and with what Parliament and civil society has called for regarding reforms of the electoral system,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters.

The Commission played a key role in last year’s polls – which were marred by fraud in the first round and by the withdrawal of Mr. Karzai’s main opponent Abdullah Abdullah in the second – having received some 2,500 complaints.

The proposed decree comes ahead of parliamentary elections slated for 18 September.

Mr. Nesirky noted that at the London Conference held last month, the Afghan Government and the international community jointly committed to ensuring the integrity of the 2010 parliamentary elections.

In his most recent report on Afghanistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that there is “an emerging consensus among both local and international experts on the need for reform of the electoral system before the 2010 elections (parliamentary, district and mayoral) and future electoral processes in Afghanistan.”

This includes a review of the appointment mechanism for the commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure its impartiality, he added.

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