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Bamyan election body virtually paralysed: IEC chief

BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): The Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief for central Bamyan province on Sunday acknowledged interference from influential people and the absence of a demographic database had paralysed the body ahead of parliamentary polls.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Ali Shah Misbah said the officials concerned should help resolve problems; otherwise the body would be unable to conduct free and fair elections.
Even the IEC has no information about the population of Bamyan and number people above 18 years of age. A survey conducted last year in collaboration with the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed Bamyan’s population was around 386,000. 
But the people of Bamyan rejected the survey as politically motivated and biased, depriving the province of its due rights. The locals believe that over 600,000 people live in Bamyan.
Misbah said there was need for a database to register people of voting age. He added there were always errors and confusion in the voter registration process that made the election process complex.
The IEC chief said lack of awareness about elections in villages was another major problem, with most of voters unaware of the importance of the democratic exercise. 
Some individuals still have great influence on the election process, he admitted, remarking that holding free and fair election in such circumstances was a pipedream.
In addition, the people of Bamyan came out in large numbers and cast their votes. Around 174,000 voters, including 74,000 women, took part in last year’s presidential election, he recalled.
He said 188 polling stations and 951 polling centres had been set up and the turnout in Bamyan was remarkable in last year’s provincial and presidential elections.
People, he said, were politically mature and understood the importance of elections but they needed awareness training courses.
The spillover of militancy from Parwan, Baghlan and Maidan Wardak provinces had contributed to insecurity in Bamyan, he claimed, stressed an improved environment for future elections.



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