Monitoring election transparency everyone’s responsibility

Elections are transparent when each step is open to scrutiny, and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately. The principle of transparency is linked to the fundamental right of citizens to seek, receive and impart information, as well as the right to take part in government and public affairs.
Meanwhile, decision making processes must be opened to scrutiny, and reasonable opportunities for public input should be provided. Information relating to all stages of the electoral cycle must be made available and accessible to citizens, including voters and candidates. Nonpartisan and partisan observers should be accredited to observe all phases of the election process and be permitted to comment publicly on the process free from unreasonable restriction.
Addressing the twenty-second meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in Kabul here yesterday, President Ghani said that seven billion Afghanis had been allocated from the government budget for the election process.
“It is for the first time we are paying most part of the election fund from our own resources, I congratulate all the Afghans on this great step,” he said. He added Afghan security forces would ensure security for the presidential election.
 ”Afghan security and defense forces would be neutral in the election process and we will publish regulations and a clear procedure in the next one day so all become assured that Afghan security and defense forces are national asset, not a personal property or affiliated with some political parties,” he said.
President Ghani said government’s civil workers would be impartial in election and those who violated the law would be taken to justice. “Afghanistan penal code criminalizes interference in election, I ask judiciary organs to be careful about criminal election cases,” he said.
The president said election campaigns by candidates would start next week. The presidential election would not be free of problems, but Afghans would not bow to any problem and would act in recourse to deal with them, he said.
The upcoming presidential election is viewed with hope and doubt. Afghans are concerned about lack of transparency and fear that the election will be rigged similar to 2014 presidential election, the final result of which was declared one year after the establishment of the National Unity Government. 
Afghanistan left a highly controversial presidential election behind in 2014, which led to power-sharing between President Ghani and CE Abdullah Abdullah. Afghan citizens were frustrated to a great extent as a result of long-awaited result and harsh rhetoric between Afghan officials, who put the independence of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) under question. 
Government has so far done much efforts to provide safe and sound environment for the citizens to participate in the upcoming presidential elections. The government and international community have worked hard to improve transparency in such democratic process.
Besides government, the media, religious scholars and civil society activists can play their effective role in monitoring of the election process. Election is conducted to support democracy and rule of law and safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens. If election brings no changes in the country and people could not exercise their rights and freedoms, it will carry no significance and people will remain indifferent. Hence, election should bring positive changes in the country.

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