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Former Afghan Ambassador Says Election Flaws Must Be Fixed

Afghanistan's presidential election candidates Abdullah Abdullah, left, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai shake hands after signing a power-sharing deal at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 21, 2014

A former Afghan ambassador to France and Canada said President-elect Ashraf Ghani and Afghanistan's newly appointed Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have pledged to fix the country’s "flawed" election system.

Omar Samad told VOA Monday that if Afghanistan does not fix its electoral system, the upcoming parliamentary elections that are supposed to take place within the next year or two will have the same issues as presidential polls in 2009 and 2014.

Afghanistan, he said, needs a census, and the country also needs a voter registration process and mechanisms that work properly on a national scale with identification cards.

Now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based research firm, Samad said most people in Afghanistan don't even have an identification card, making it extremely difficult to keep track of voters in an election. He said voter registration systems in Afghanistan are ancient and easy to fake.

Although there is some disappointment about the Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan not releasing an official vote count after the election audit supervised by the United Nations, Samad said he is not upset.

“If the process and the mechanism is flawed, what purpose does it serve to accentuate or exacerbate the political tensions?” he asked.

Samad added that the European Union observer team, in a report released Monday, said the U.N. supervised election audit was flawed and that the whole election process in Afghanistan needs to be reformed.

“Afghanistan had a choice between a flawed election result being announced, and exacerbating political tensions and leading to a crisis, or agreeing to say ‘Well, these are the two main contenders, and they have agreed to, as part of a political deal, to form a national unity government and avoid a crisis that could lead to violence,'” Samad said.

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