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Press for Changes to Afghan Electoral Law

The United States and the international community form the primary source of funding for Afghanistan’s election activities. They need to demand reforms that will make their investments worthwhile.

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The international community largely refrained from publicly condemning Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s unilateral rewrite of the country’s electoral law at the beginning of 2010. He introduced new restrictions on those standing for office and gave himself the power to appoint all the Electoral Complaints Commission members who adjudicate fraud claims (though he subsequently agreed to name two U.N. representatives to that panel). Despite the lower house of parliament’s resounding protest vote against those changes, the upper house failed to take action on the measure, and the country’s Independent Election Commission confirmed it will operate under the new guidelines during the upcoming parliamentary elections now scheduled for September 2010.

The United States and the international community form the primary source of funding for Afghanistan’s election activities. They need to demand reforms that will make their investments worthwhile, starting with basic changes that would give parliament power to name some Electoral Complaints Commission members and to confirm the Independent Elections Commission director, rather than acceding to the executive branch’s control over both.

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