Political Landscape

First Reactions Negative: The new Electoral Complaints Commission


The presidential palace has announced the names of the five members of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC), the body which will deal with any complaints about the April 2014 presidential election. It will also, along with the Independent Election Commission (IEC), rule whether the ballot was free and fair. The commissioners are Abdul Sattar Sadat, Rida Azimi, Nader Mohseni, Azizullah Aryafar and Payghambar Qul Doghan. As AAN researcher Gran Hewad reports, the five are reasonably qualified professionally, but there are allegations that they are too close to the Palace and the current, but out-going, vice presidents. 

The president selected the five out of a shortlist of 15, with the announcement being made on 16 September 2013.(1) The five have a range of reasonably relevant professional qualifications, with, between them, experience in the law, journalism, academia, the Senate, district governing and the civil service. However, as various opposition figures have pointed out, they also all have links to the Palace. “We don’t expect they will properly scrutinise allegations of electoral fraud,” Hussain Sancharaki, spokesman for 2009 presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah told Reuters. Speaking to the same agency, the Kandahar MP Naim Lalai Hamidzai said, “The president obviously chose his own people, those loyal to his circle.”

The head of the watchdog NGO Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, Jandad Spinghar, has said they are also concerned about alleged deals made during the selection process and what they believe is the weakness of the IECC as a result. (See earlier AAN reporting on the selection process here.)

Given the history of vote rigging and fraud in previous Afghan elections and the politicised tussles to get clear and accepted results in both the last previous parliamentary and presidential elections, the IECC matters.

The five new commissioners are:

Abdul Sattar Saadat: legal advisor to the office of the president. Saadat is also still a member of the Afghan Lawyers Association, a public commentator and a member of the Civil Society Coordination Jirga.

Rida Azemi: journalist by profession, she was appointed a senator by Karzai for the period from 2005 to 2010. After completing her term, he appointed her an IEC commissioner, a position she enjoyed until late July when, as per the law, new commissioners were appointed to the IEC.

Nader Mohseni: has an MA in law and is head of the Asset Registration Unit of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption. He is a member of the political committee of Hezb-e Wahdat Islami led by Second Vice President Abdul Karim Khalili and is said to be close to the Director General of the Office of Administrative Affairs, which is based in the Palace, Dr Sadeq Mudabber.

Azizullah Aryafar: journalist by profession and working as head of the Public Relations Department of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Services Commission. Previously, he was director of National Radio TV. Aryafar worked in a small media unit which supported Ahmad Shah Massud and which, later, during the Taleban years, became Aria Press, operating out of Dushanbe as a cultural support unit, producing multimedia products for the Northern Alliance. He is said to be close to the first vice president.

Paighambar Qul Doghan: historian by profession and currently the district governor of the Qurghan district of Faryab province. At 59, he will be due to retire two years before completing his six year term with IECC. A source who worked on preparing the selection files told AAN Doghan is known to be close to Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Jamahir Anwari.


(1) President Karzai selected the five names from 15 introduced to him on 11 September 2013 by a Selection Committee (for reporting, see here; for AAN background on the procedures, see here). The 15 names were supposed to have been sent on 19 August, but according to staff on the secretariat of the Selection Committee, the committee had wanted to really scrutinise the applicants’ documents and this had taken time.

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape