The Afghan government is likely to announce an alternate to implementing electoral reforms after the Wolesi Jirga's (Lower House of Parliament) recent rejection of President Ashraf Ghani's second legislative decree on the issue.
This has however, scuppered the hopes of monitoring groups and the Afghan public that reforms in the election system would take place. Government is expected to announce a second option for election reforms by the end of the week, the Office of the Chief Executive Officer of the National Unity Government Abdullah Abdullah said in a statement on Wednesday. No details as to what the alternate is was given. The statement comes amid constant setbacks in parliament over electoral reforms and in the wake of rising public outrage over the issue which has undermined the implementation of reforms. Election monitoring groups have warned that domestic and international criticism against government is likely to grow if the so-called new option for election reforms again hits a deadlock. "Electoral reforms constitutes one of the key promises of government which also motivated us to consult the House of Representatives for help; however we faced deadlocks in our attempt; but government will announce the next step by the end of the week and then details will be shared with the media," said Maisam Umid, deputy spokesman for the CEO. Both the presidency and the CEO's office have rejected rumors over disagreements between the president and the CEO regarding the electoral reforms issue. However, monitoring groups claim government does not have the political will to reform the law. "The electoral reform process is one of the priorities in line with the political agreement (signed at the establishment of the national unity government), however no practical steps have been taken until now and we are massively concerned about the approach; if a similar track continues, international pressure and outrage among opposition forces will likely increase," said Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, members of the public have also blasted government over constant delays that have hit the much-awaited process. "No leaders have disagreements on the scale of Ghani and Abdullah; I personally will not vote in the elections," local resident Muharram Hussain said. "The government tells lies, it has not delivered on any of its promises," said University student Rohullah. "Even pro-government MPs rejected the decree in parliament, because government leaders were trying to put their responsibilities on the shoulders of parliament," said MP Raihana Azad. "According to the law, the decree is already implemented. The government has the legal authority to undertake its job whether it is electoral reforms or any other job but keeping in mind the time the decree was issue. When the MPs return from the summer recess, government can resend the decree to parliament for approval," MP Ghulam Farooq Majroh said. The European Union and foreign donors have said that they will not provide financial assistance to Afghanistan's election management bodies unless the reforms are effected in the elections law.