The National Unity Government (NUG) has assured political and jihadi figures it is not interfering unduly in affairs of state institutions, particularly the electoral bodies and the selection committee.
The assurance was held out at a consultative meeting with political and jihadi leaders on major national security and political issues at the Presidential Palace late on Thursday evening. A statement from the presidential palace said the process of interviewing nominees for the election commissions, which began on October 24, had come to an end President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani welcomed political and jihadi leaders, urging members of the selection committee to report their activities to the meeting participants. Javed Rashid, head of the selection committee, said: “We started from scratch and received more than 400 applications, but we extended the deadline by a week to let more candidates apply.” He added a total of 720 candidates applied for both electoral commissions. The committee’s initial scrutiny found that more than 300 applicants were ineligible on grounds of age and relevant education. In finalizing the list of candidates, the selection committee considered at least 10 factors, including education, experience and skills, Rashid informed the participants. After several rounds of interviews, a final list containing 21 aspirants for the Independent Election Commission and 15 others for the Electoral Complaints Commission was presented to the president on Wednesday. On the occasion, Mohammad Omar Daudzai, Wahidullah Sabawon, Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Farooq Wardak, Abdul Hakim Mujahid, Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Dr. Abbas Basir, Eng. Karim Amin, Abdul Karim Khurram, Amarullah Saleh, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mullah Syed Mohammed Akhund and Zarar Ahmad Moqbil presented their recommendations and views. President Ghani welcomed comments and feedback from the participants, saying government in no way interfered in the affairs of other state institutions. Under the new electoral law, the first violation is considered a crime, something that will help prevent fraud. Transparent elections needed political consensus and cooperation from all stakeholders, noted the president, who said all the candidates were interviewed based on the most important criterion of integrity for members of the commissions. President Ghani underlined careful consultations were needed on the subject of elections – an important national issue. He asked the political and jihadi leaders to present their views in writing to the Presidential Palace. Addressing the participants, Vice President Sarwar Danesh said: “All questions that you raised will be evaluated at the next meeting.” He added issues related to elections required all political forces to present their suggestions. At the end of the meeting, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah said no one was meddling in the work of the selection committee. He urged all political figures to offer coherent views. Given cooperation from relevant quarters, fair elections could be held, he believed. He stressed they had no choice but to hold elections and political will was there. Abdullah said suggestions from the participants would be evaluated at a meeting on Sunday.