Afghanistan’s electoral reform process has been bogged down for months. While the National Unity Government agreement called for the “immediate establishment” of an Electoral Reform Commission, it took the president five months just to sign the necessary decree. Now, three months later, the commission has still not started its work and it looks like the original decree will be overturned and a new commission introduced, amidst controversy over who was appointed and what they were mandated to do. Meanwhile, the absence of an electoral timeline or any planning for the upcoming elections has led donors to decrease funding for the Independent Electoral Commission, until they receive clarity on what they will be paying for. Although the palace has now indicated that an announcement of an election date may be imminent, the lack of urgency on the part of the government is notable. AAN’s Ehsan Qaane and Martine van Bijlert take a closer look at the details and explore what the possible explanations might be.Photo: Martine van Bijlert
Establishment of the Electoral Reform Commission
The implementation of electoral reform and the establishment of a special commission were fundamental points in the National Unity Government agreement (full text here), which was signed on 19 September 2014. The special commission would be appointed “immediately after the establishment of the NUG” and would be tasked to review the electoral system (electoral laws and institutes) and recommend electoral reform. It however took the president five months to sign the necessary decree; in the meantime the reform process was pulled in different directions. The presidential decree establishing the commission was finally signed on 2 March 2015 (full text in the appendix) and, together with the attached Terms of Reference, released to the media on 22 March 2015 – hours before the president and CEO departed on an official trip to Washington DC.
According to the terms of reference, the Electoral Reform Commission’s mandate is for four months, counting from the date of the issuing the decree on 2 March 2015, which means that technically less than three weeks remain (the term can however be extended). The commission was further tasked with presenting its first recommendations – relating to the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections – after two months. However, more than three months after the signing of the decree, the commission has still not started its work and it is not clear whether the decree will remain in force or whether the commission will be replaced by a newly negotiated composition.
The members, the selection process and the (predictable) controversy
The decree established a commission with 15 members, consisting of seven members introduced by each side – the president and the CEO – and a UNAMA representative as an advisory fifteenth member. Although they are a fairly good mix of politicians, academics and civil society activists, none of the members have a strong, non-partisan background in elections. For instance, none of the commission’s members representing civil society are from the election observer organisations and there are allegations that the list with suggestions from the Afghanistan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN) was ignored. (1) The fact that the few members with experience or knowledge of elections are all partisan, threatens to make this into a political rather than a technical commission. For short bios of the commission’s members, see under (2).
According to Muhammad Nateqi, who was the chairperson of a commission that negotiated the establishment of the Electoral Reform Commission, the negotiating commission had originally agreed on nine members for the Electoral Reform Commission: three from the President’s side, three from the CEO’s side and three from civil society organisations. This is also what the Abdullah camp had long suggested, claiming early on that they had their members already selected (see also here). According to Nateqi, the CEO and the President later decided to have 15 members.
The members, it appears, were neither consulted nor forewarned about their appointment. When asked, three members – Sediqullah Tawhidi, Sabrina Saqeb and Azizurrahman Rafi – told AAN that they only heard their name from the media after the decree was released. Saqeb added that she knows her name was added by Abdullah’s side, but that she has not been personally in touch with him since 2009. Rafi complained that his name had been misspelt (Azizullah instead of Azizurrahman) and that he had even doubted he was the person in question, until someone in the Palace confirmed it to him. All three at the time said they expected to be officially informed and invited, before they would decide whether to accept. It may however not get that far, given the controversies that have arisen and that seem to have put the commission’s composition up for renewed negotiation.
Disagreement on the chairperson of the ERC
Shortly after the presidential decree was issued, disagreements between the president and CEO surfaced – in what is becoming a familiar pattern. Asef Ashna, the deputy spokesperson of the CEO, told Voice of America on 8 April 2015 that the president had appointed the chairperson of the commission, Shukria Barakzai, without consulting the CEO. According to him she had not even been on the original list that was agreed between the two leaders (see here). Tawhidi, the commission’s deputy (introduced by Abdullah), told AAN something similar on 24 May 2015, saying that the CEO and the president had agreed on the chairperson, deputy and secretaries of the commission, but that the president had violated this agreement by unilaterally adding and appointing Shukria Barakzai.
In addition to the lack of consultation, the appointment of Barakzai was criticised by the Abdullah camp due to her close links with the president. Hasht-e Sobh (8am) newspaper quoted Abdullah’s deputy spokesperson Ashna as saying that the CEO did not agree with the membership of Shukria Barakzai in the commission because she was part of President Ghani’s election campaign (see here). Ashna elaborated on his personal Facebook page, claiming that “Shukria was involved in the large-scale fraud in the last presidential election; we have videos and evidence.” Tawhidi, the commission’s deputy, was less confrontational, but argued that he believed the leadership of the commission should not belong to one or other side and that a commission that is in charge of reform to promote democracy should not have its leadership appointed in a non-democratic mechanism, suggesting that the members themselves elect the commission’s leadership.
After a month of stalemate, the CEO office claimed on 22 April 2015 that the president had agreed to appoint Jandad Spinghar, Director of Election Watch of Afghanistan, instead of Shukria Barakzai (see here), but this was never formally confirmed by the president’s office. AAN’s repeated efforts to get clear answers from spokespersons or officials working for the second-vice president (who is tasked by the president with overseeing the electoral reform process) were unsuccessful. Spinghar, incidentally, was not mentioned as a member of the commission in the original presidential decree, indicating that the composition of the commission is still up in the air.
Jawed Faisal, Abdullah’s deputy spokesperson, on 9 June 2015 denied that there were any disagreements and said that the president and the CEO had reached an agreement and that the commission would start its work “in the coming days,” with some changes to the members. The president’s legal adviser, Abdul Ali Muhammadi, said something similar a week later on 16 June 2015, saying that the electoral reform commission would be announced in the next week. He also said a date for the parliamentary elections would be given soon.
Disagreement on the commission’s terms of reference
The disagreements surrounding the commission are not only about the commission’s chairperson, but also about its terms of reference, which were drafted by the Office of the President. The terms of reference have ten articles (see appendix for full text). It is the second article that is the most controversial:
The Special Electoral Reform Commission is in charge of reviewing the issues mentioned below neutrally, accurately, professionally and from all aspects [and] shall submit their proposals and recommendations through the CEO to the President for final decision:
– reviewing the legislation related to the elections, including the Electoral Law, the Structure, Authority and Duties of the Electoral Bodies Law (SAD Law), regulations and procedures;
– reviewing the structure and authorities of the electoral bodies and their Terms of Reference and [other] authority; and
– proposing solutions and policies with the purpose of creating transparency and stability in Afghanistan’s electoral system.
This controversy goes back to an ongoing dispute between the Abdullah and Ghani camps on whether the necessary electoral reforms should focus on the electoral legislation, structures and procedures only (which is the position of the Ghani camp), or whether it should also include an overhaul of the electoral personnel (the position of the Abdullah camp). Abdullah’s camp continues to insist on the need to replace leadership and personnel of both commissions, IEC and IECC, at the central and provincial levels (see here), insisting that the commissioners and managers of the electoral bodies committed systematic fraud and had publically damaged the image of elections in the country. Vice President Sarwar Danesh however told the BBC on 10 February 2015 that electoral reform does not imply the firing of all commissioners from their positions: “We should not say that either the IEC has the competency or not, but we should look if any individual, not only commissioners but every employee of the IEC, has the necessary management skills or not and the decisions must be made based on this perspective” (see here).
A second issue that is controversial in the article is the role of the CEO and the president. Whereas the NUG agreement states that “the special commission will report to the CEO on its progress and the Cabinet will review its recommendations and take the necessary steps for their implementation,” the commission’s ToR makes it sound like the CEO’s only role is to pass on the commission’s recommendations to the president, who will then make the final decision on his own.
Muhammad Nateqi, speaking as the chairperson of the commission to oversee the implementation of the political agreement, told AAN on 7 June 2015:
“Based on the political agreement the electoral reform commission is responsible in front of the CEO and has to submit their recommendations to the CEO. Then the CEO reviews the recommendations and presents them to the cabinet to finalise the reform. Any decision against the political agreement is unacceptable. The NUG has established a special commission to oversee the implementation of the political agreement. This commission has 11 members and I am chairing it. So, I am saying this as the chairperson of this Special Oversight Commission.” (3)
Tawhidi, the deputy of the reform commission, and Ayubzada, the director of TEFA, also have their criticisms. Tawhidi warned that reform would be “impossible” if the commission only has an advisory role and if all its suggestions can be rejected by the president.
Ayubzada commented that there was a contradiction in the ToR between Article 4 and 7. According to Article 4 the commission should gather the ideas, recommendations and experience of political parties, civil society organisations, lawyers, women and scholars, while Article 7 says that all proposals and recommendations of the commission should be kept confidential till they are approved. He argued that civil society, parties and others can not properly advise the commission if they do not know what it is working on. This issues was also raised by others, including Jandad Spinghar, director of EWA.
Donors decide not to fund a stalled process
International donors in the meantime ran out of patience. There was no date or electoral timeline for the upcoming parliamentary elections, and seemingly no plan from the government’s side on how to come up with one (even though the constitutionally prescribed date had already passed). (4) There was no consensus on what electoral reform should look like or how it should be done, other than outsourcing the discussion to an electoral reform commission that exists only on paper. And there seemed to be no vision whatsoever on the Afghan government’s side on how to transition from the heavily donor-dependent model of organising elections – with a continued large role for UNDP ELECT and international funding – to a more independent and sustainable model.
So after the electoral process had been stalled for months, donors announced in early May 2015 that they were going to cut electoral funding from 1 June 2015 onwards, essentially forcing the electoral institutions to go into ‘hibernation mode.’ The step does not appear to be a cutting of already committed funds, but rather a decision not to embark on a new project cycle related to the parliamentary elections, as long as there is no plan or detail on what the funding would be used for.
Yusuf Nuristani, the chairperson of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), when asked about the delay in the parliamentary elections, told the plenary session of the Wolesi Jirga on 18 May 2015, that “the International donors have suddenly decided not to give money to the electoral bodies while we [IEC] need around 80 million USD just to run the upcoming elections” – making it sound as if the delay in organising the elections was caused by the donors’ decision, rather than the other way around. Sarir Ahmad Barmak, another IEC commissioner, was more accurate when, in an interview with Tolo News on 20 May 2015 (see here), he stated that donors had cut their financial support because there was no proposal from the Afghan side to hold the elections. (5) He said the donors told the electoral bodies that “there is no funding, because there is no election.” Barmak was hopeful there would be money once the government clarified the matter of holding the elections – which was later confirmed by the British ambassador. It is however clear that, as well as simply announcing a date and a timeline, the donors will also require serious steps towards effective reform (see for instance this interview with the EU Special Representative Ambassador Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin).
Since the announcement that funds would be cut, more than a month ago, there has been no further progress, other than the usual occasional announcements that steps may be imminent (the latest one on 16 June 2015 by the president’s legal adviser saying that the electoral reform commission will be announced in the next week).
Why is the electoral reform process stalled?
Initially, the government justified the delay in establishing the Electoral Reform Commission by saying that the appointment of the cabinet (which took seven months and has still not been completely finalised) needed to take precedence. The presidential decree on the establishment of the Electoral Reform Commission was presented on the same day the NUG announced its second batch of ministerial candidates, 22 March 2015, which was also on the eve of the president and CEO’s trip to Washington. (In that respect, the current government does not differ much from the previous one, where progress on issues that donors care about also tended to take place just before high-level events, such as international conferences or travel.) Since then, as discussed above, not much has happened.
But why does the government consistently seem in no hurry to act? It is clear that the make-up of the NUG has complicated all decisions on which the two sides may have differing positions, but in this case it is not even fully clear what the real agenda of both sides is. There are, in this respect, roughly three possible ways to understand the current stalemate.
The first possible explanation is that both the president and the CEO want electoral reform and are still in favour of having the parliamentary (and possibly the district council elections) as planned, as well as the Loya Jirga to decide on the CEO’s position, but that they have been distracted by other problems. The matter is then further complicated by the fact that they are simply unable to agree on what the reform should look like and that ultimately both of them want the reforms to favour themselves and their allies.
As discussed before, the parliamentary elections are not only important for the executive-legislative relations, but also for the balance of power within the NUG. As a result both camps will seek to strengthen their hand with a strong showing in parliament. The upcoming elections will also largely shape the composition of the Loya Jirga that, according to the NUG agreement, will be convened to decide on the position of the CEO and whether to change the current political system. (6) In practice, the disagreements surrounding electoral reform are therefore not in the first place about how best to strengthen the electoral system, but rather about how the changes will affect the position of both camps.
The second possible explanation is that the CEO wants electoral reform, while the president does not, and that the CEO is not in a position to effectively push for it. The CEO’s camp does continue to, at least nominally, raise the issue: they have drafted amendments of the Structure, Authority and Duties of the Electoral Bodies Law (SAD law) and sent them to the Lower House for approval (see here for more details) and they regularly raise the issue in the media and public speeches, albeit not very strongly. One could argue that the failure to hold a Loya Jirga within two years would undermine the legitimacy of the CEO position and that therefore Abdullah should be expected to be pushing for a swift revival of the electoral reform agenda and the setting of an electoral timeline. (7)
In this view, the CEO would still like to push for reform, but has no legal powers to do so with all authority in practice concentrated in the hand of the president (see here).
The third possible explanation is that both sides are stalling and that neither the president nor the CEO are currently very keen to have either an election or a Loya Jirga any time soon. Although it is often assumed that the CEO and his camp would have a great interest in the convening of the Loya Jirga, as it provides an opportunity to finally establish a prime-ministerial system, it is also true that the processes involved – the parliamentary (and district council) election and its aftermath, the proceedings during a Loya Jirga – are so difficult to control that nobody can be really certain of their outcome. This may well be the reason that the CEO’s camp, although nominally complaining, is not seriously pushing for the electoral reform issue to be taken up with more urgency. Even though the CEO’s current position may formally be a temporary one, it has a budget and has been recognised by parliament, and for the moment that seems to be enough.
Not everyone is happy with this, though, as illustrated by the complaint of the cultural advisor to the CEO, Sayed Fazl Agha Sancharaki, who said that certain circles within the presidential palace and the CEO’s office were tarnishing the electoral process and preventing the reforms from taking place: “At the moment there are people in both teams who have ambushed (the process) and want to create a deadlock.”
The Electoral Reform Joint Working Group – a gathering of political parties, civil society and media organisations –, has in the meantime presented the government with its “Declaration of Substantive Principle for Electoral Reform.” The document, which is based on a series of consultative meetings facilitated by the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), contains 37 principles (for a short overview, see here) –and represents an effort to inform, reinvigorate and speed up the discussions on electoral reform. There is, in general, a growing frustration among those in favour of electoral reform with the government’s slowness to act.
Possible movement, ahead of the (possible) expiry of the Wolesi Jirga’s term
Over the last few days, after sustained criticism from parliament and civil society, there appears to have been some movement, possibly spurred by the discussions surrounding the Wolesi Jirga’s mandate, which may or may not expire on 23 June 2015.
According to article 83 of the Constitution
… the work period of the Wolesi Jirga will terminate, after the disclosure of the results of the elections, on the 1st of Saratan [23 June] of the fifth year and the new parliament shall commence work. The elections for members of the House of the People shall be held 30-60 days prior to the expiration of the term of the House of the People.
There are different opinions on how this should be read. The MPs, unsurprisingly, claim that no decision is needed and that their mandate does not expire until a new parliament is elected (based on a reading of article 83 that stresses the part that says the session will terminate “after the disclosure of the results of the elections” rather than the mention of the specific date). The position of the presidential palace on the other hand seems to be that a Supreme Court decision is required to extend the mandate beyond 22 June 2015. Legal experts, meanwhile, have argued that the only way to legitimise an acting legislative would be by scheduling the upcoming parliamentary elections. (8)
As a result, President Ghani has been holding a series of consultative meetings (details in this palace statement) on 12 and 13 June 2015. According to the Palace, the president told the participants that he was “committed to holding the election for the Lower House, but consensus needs to emerge on security, technical and political aspects of the election process prior to the date.” According to civil society activist Bari Salam, however, the president had been more explicit; he claimed that “the president promised that the election will be held within six months and parliament’s tenure will be extended until then.” Second Deputy Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, Nazir Ahmad Ahmadzai, even claimed that the president had instructed the head of the election commission to announce the date of the parliamentary elections within five days.
But even if a date for the parliamentary elections were announced soon (nobody seems to be speaking about district council elections at this point), it is unlikely that it will have been chosen based on any substantive planning, particularly if important decisions on which electoral reform measures need to take place beforehand have not yet been taken.
The irony of the NUG’s electoral reform promise
The irony of the inclusion of electoral reform in the NUG agreement is that the stipulations that were meant to ensure that electoral reform would be taken seriously, now seem to have had the opposite effect. Substantive electoral planning is deadlocked in the absence of clarity on what kinds of reforms the government might be able to agree upon. And given that the discussions on electoral reform outsourced to a commission that only exists on paper and that, even when it is operational, will only be providing the government with recommendations, the reform issue threatens to become a never-ending loop of indecisiveness, giving the government a free hand to continue to stall and improvise.
(1) Naim Ayubzada, director of one of Afghanistan’s two main electoral observer organisations, Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), further complained that none of the civil society representatives were selected from the list presented by the Afghanistan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN) – a broad umbrella group that also includes most of the independent election observer organisations like FEFA, TEFA and EWA – to both the second vice-president and the second deputy of the CEO. Sediqullah Tawhidi, the commission’s deputy, however claims that he was on ACSEN’s list of suggestions. Neither has showed the list to back up their assertion.
(2) Short bios of the 15 members of the Electoral Reform Commission mentioned in the presidential decree of 22 March 2015 (see annex below for the full text of the decree):
Shukria Barakzai (chairperson): current MP from Kabul who was with President Ghani during his 2014 presidential campaign; her position as chairperson is contested (introduced by AG).
Sediqullah Tawhidi (deputy): a journalist and civil society activist, chairperson of Nai institute of journalism (introduced by AA).
Shah Sultan Akifi (secretary): worked at the IEC for a year during the 2010 elections, served at the parliament before and after that, as head of the Human Resource Department of the Lower House and policy deputy of the Secretariat of the Upper House; now serving as the head of the Judicial Department at the president’s office (introduced by AG).
Wazhma Forogh (secretary): civil society and women rights activists, currently co-director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security (introduced by AA).
Ali Amiri: a university lecturer, was one of Abdullah’s spokespersons during his campaign period; Amiri is close to Muhammad Mohaqeq, Abdullah’s second deputy (introduced by AA).
Abdul Qadir Karyab: was head of the political department of Hezb-e Islami (Hekmatyar) during the PDPA era; he led a delegation of Hezb in the peace talk with Dr. Najib’s government held in Libya; more recently he has worked with the Asia Foundation and UNEP Afghanistan (see here); he is currently close to Arghandiwal (introduced by AA).
Bashir Faruq: served as adviser at the IEC in 2010 when Manawi was the chairperson and was an electoral adviser in Abdullah’s campaign in 2014; before that he worked with UNAMA and the EUSR office in Kabul (introduced by AA).
Dr Amin Ahmadi: a university professor who runs the private Ibn Sina University; he served as a member and secretary of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Constitution’s Implementation from 2010 to 2014 (introduced by AA).
Faizullah Zaki: chief of staff of first vice-president General Dostum, was very active in the campaign of President Ghani and vice president Dostum; has a journalism degree and was a high-ranking youth leader during the PDPA government (introduced by AG).
Kawun Kakar: studied law in the US, returned to Afghanistan during Karzai’s government, involved on the UN side in the preparation of the 2003 CLJ, then in private business (Alekozai tea company), currently working at the Office of Administrative Affairs, was part of President Ghani’s campaign (introduced by AG).
Sabrina Saqeb: civil society activist and a co-director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security, she was an MP from Kabul from 2005 to 2010 (introduced by AA).
Gul Ahmad Madadzai: a lawyer, chair of the Democratic Lawyers Union; during Dr. Najib’s era he served as a general with the Ministry of Interior Affairs; in the new government of Afghanistan he served in the MoI as head of the Human Rights Department (introduced by AG).
Azizurrahman Rafi (mistakenly referred to as Azizullah Rafi in the decree): civil society activist who leads the Afghanistan Civil Society Forum Organization, ACSFO (introduced by AG).
Abdul Majid Ghanizada: the head of the Civil Law department with the Ministry of Justice; he represents the Ministry in the Commission (introduced by AG).
Tadamichi Yamamoto: deputy SRSG of UNAMA; he was introduced as the representative of UNAMA, agreed on the condition that the role would be advisory only.
(3) The commission was established about two months ago by the president. It has been allocated a budget and works under the leadership of the CEO’s office, that has so far appointed five of the eleven members.
(4) According to article 83 of the Constitution the election should take place between 30 to 60 days before the first day of Saratan, which is 22 June: ie between 23 April and 23 May. It is not unusual for elections to be delayed beyond the constitutional date. In fact, the 2014 presidential and provincial council election was the first one that was not, but there is a concern about the seeming total lack of urgency and absence of planning
(5) The IEC did submit two proposals with possible dates to the president, but neither were approved. In the first proposal 2 Sawr (22 April 2015) was proposed as the Election Day and in the second draft the date was 11 Mizan (3 October 2015). According to Nuristani the IEC intends to hire hundreds of thousands of employees for the day of election.
(6) 85% of all voting Loya Jirga members are, directly or indirectly, determined based on the district council and parliamentary elections. According to the constitution, a Loya Jirga will be made up of the Lower House (249 MPs), Upper House (102 Senators, including 34 Senators chosen from among the elected district councils), provincial councils chairs (34 representatives) and district councils chairs (376 representatives, if also including the 11 temporary districts). So out of the 761 voting Loya Jirga members, 659 would be elected in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections – if they indeed take place (for more detail see here).
(7) According to the NUG agreement (see here), the Loya Jirga should take its decision about the CEO position in the first two years of the NUG:
On the basis of Article 2 of the Joint Statement of 17 Asad 1393 (August 8, 2014) and its attachment (“…convening of a Loya Jirga in two years to consider the post of an executive prime minister”), the President is committed to convoking a Loya Jirga for the purpose of debate on amending the Constitution and creating a post of executive prime minister.
(8) Similar discussions were held in 2010. President Karzai initially offered to allow the sitting Wolesi Jirga to continue with limited authorities, which the MPs – unsurprisingly – dismissed as unacceptable and unconstitutional (and also not in keeping with the extension of Karzai’s own term when he faced a similar situation in 2009). A few days later, the Wolesi Jirga – already irate that the president had still not introduced his cabinet – unilaterally extended its own legislative period for five more months, until the time they expected the results of the election to have been announced. They argued that according to article 83 of the Constitution elections should have been held 30 to 60 before the legislative period ended and that this had not happened.
Appendix. Full text of the presidential decree establishing the Electoral Reform Commission:
Based on Article 64 of the Constitution and Part E of the NUG Political Agreement (signed on 19 September 2014) on the effectuation of electoral reform with the purpose of consolidating the electoral system, holding free, transparent and fair elections, strengthening democracy, increasing participation in and credibility of the state institutions and finally with the purpose of bringing fundamental reform to the country’s electoral system, promoting the rule of law and preventing electoral violation and fraud, the following issues are approved:
The Special Electoral Reform Commission is established with the following members:
Miss Shukria Barakzai, as the chairperson
Mr. Sediqullah Tawhidi, as the deputy
Mr. Ali Amiry, as a member
Mr. Abdul Qadeer Karyab, as a member
Mr. Bashir Farooq, as a member
Dr. Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, as a member
Mr. Faizullah Zaki, as a member
Mr. Kawun Kakar, as a member
Miss, Sabrina Saqib, as a member
Mr. Gul Ahmad Madadzai, as a member
Mr. Azizullah Rafi, as a member
Mr. Abdul Majeed Ghanizadah, representative of the Ministry of Justice, as a member
Mr. Tadamichi Yamamato, representative of UNAMA, as a member
Mr. Shah Sultan Akifi, as a member and secretary
Miss Wazhma Forogh, as a member and secretary
The commission will act based on the Terms or Reference, which are attached to this decree. I wish success to every members of the commission in their job.
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
The President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Terms of Reference for the Special Electoral Reform Commission (attachment to the presidential decree)
With respect to the provision of the Afghanistan Constitution, the main goals of the NUG are rule of law, promoting justice and transparency, strengthening national unity and the political stability of the country, providing fundamental rights of citizens and strengthening a regime based on people votes; the Special Electoral Reform Commission must act within this framework.
The Special Electoral Reform Commission is in charge of reviewing the issues mentioned below neutrally, accurately, professionally and from all aspects [and] shall submit their proposals and recommendations through the CEO to the President for final decision:
- a) reviewing the legislation related to the elections, including the Electoral Law, the Structure, Authority and Duties of the Electoral Bodies Law (SAD Law), regulations and procedures;
- b) reviewing the structure and authorities of the electoral bodies and their Terms of Reference and [other] authority; and
- c) proposing solutions and policies with the purpose of creating transparency and stability in Afghanistan’s electoral system.
The commission shall draft their proposals and recommendations in three categories:
- a) Short term: for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections;
- b) Mid term: for the next presidential election;
- c) Long term: for the next other elections.
The commission shall make use of the recommendations, experience and consultations of political parties, civil society organisations, lawyers, women and other individual scholars.
The quorum of the meetings of the commission is completed with two thirds [of all members] present and their decisions shall be made by two thirds of the present members.
The work mandate of the commission is four month after the date of issuing this decree. The time could be extended by a presidential decree. The commission shall submit the requirements, which are mentioned in article 3a, in the two first months of their work, through the CEO to the President.
The proposals and recommendations of the commission shall be confidential until they are approved by the commission.
The commission has a small and limited structure and its budget is paid by the Office of the President.
The electoral commissions and other relevant administrative bodies shall provide all cooperation to the [Special Electoral Reform] commission.
The commission may approve procedures, in case of need, to implement its duty, but they shall be based on this ToR.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020