News - Afghanistan
Election commission officials on Monday announced that international donors had decided to cut their funding for Afghanistan's election institutions in light of last year's troubled presidential election and the ongoing uncertainty around electoral reform and parliamentary elections.
According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), 80 percent of the IEC's budget comes from international donors, meaning any decline in funding, let alone a complete withdraw of it, would have a major impact on the commission's capacity to continue its operations.
"Donors have definitively announced the end of their financial cooperation with us," Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) Secretary Nadir Mohseni said on Monday. "The donors have asked the election management bodies to manage their budget from within the government's budget, and it is quite a concerning issue for us."
In addition to providing the funding for Afghanistan elections themselves, international donors have also been responsible for paying the salaries of IEC and ECC employees. Now, either the Afghan government will have to foot the bill, or the election commissions could be facing a major crisis.
"With the aid cut there would be serious challenges for us," IEC member Sareer Ahmad Barmak acknowledged to TOLOnews. "Therefore, the donors must abide by their commitments and provide the necessary support to the election commissions."
Meanwhile, election monitoring activists have voiced a degree of understanding when it comes to the cuts, they themselves having been consistent champions of electoral reform and critics of the election commissions long before the aid cuts were being considered.
"There are two important factors behind the aid cut: first, the confusion about the parliamentary elections and implementation of reforms in the electoral system and election commissions, and, secondly, the election commission's mis-management during the presidential and provincial council elections," Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) Executive Director Mohammad Yousaf Rashid said. "The issue has discouraged the donors from continuing to fund Afghanistan's electoral institutions."
Based on the Afghan Constitution, parliamentary elections were originally expected to take place in May of this year. However, with no progress made on electoral reform, and the election commissions now defunded, it is unclear if the elections will even take place this year, let alone in the next few months.