Electoral Reform Critical Before Afghanistan’s Next Presidential Election

Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election and 2010 parliamentary election were plagued by pervasive fraud, which severely damaged the credibility of its electoral organizations and negatively affected the government’s efficacy in the post-election environment. The Afghan government must make substantial improvements to the electoral process to successfully hold its next presidential election in 2014.

The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Special Representative Ján Kubiš, has stated that the United Nations would oversee election day procedures, support the polls, and work to train Afghan electoral staff for the 2014 election. The Afghan constitution prevents the electoral law from being changed within a year of the next election, so the United States, NATO partners, and UNAMA must engage with the Afghan government in 2012 to make critical and meaningful improvements to the electoral process.

In order for the next election to succeed, the Afghan government needs to reform electoral laws and procedures well before election day. The Afghan government relies largely on foreign assistance to conduct its elections, so the international community has the power to press the Afghan government for positive reform. Such improvements would reinforce the credibility of the Afghan government and improve perceptions among the population of their role in the future of their country.

The challenges of the 2009 and 2010 elections illustrated several elements of the electoral process that need to be improved if the 2014 presidential election is to be credible.

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