Canada concerned by possible Afghan election changes
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says he is concerned by reports that Afghanistan's election laws could be in for significant changes.
"We are concerned by early reports that the decree diminishes the level of expertise of the Electoral Complaints Commission," said Cannon. "During the previous election the ECC, led by [Canadian] Grant Kippen, played a crucial role in efforts to have a credible election."
The Washington Post reported on Feb. 14 that the Afghan government has drafted changes to the country's election law.
The changes would see the removal of the three foreigners on the five-member Electoral Complaints Commission, which looks into voting fraud. The three foreigners were appointed to the ECC by the United Nations envoy to Afghanistan.
The Post also reported that the draft law would put limits on the number of women in the Afghan parliament, and set new qualifications to run for the presidency.
It is not clear if Afghan President Hamid Karzai has yet signed off on the changes.
Foreign Affairs said the Canadian government continues to urge the Afghan government to bring in electoral reforms ahead of elections slated for September.
During the Afghan presidential election last year, the ECC invalidated ballots from thousands of polling stations.
The original vote count gave Karzai 54.6 per cent of the total, enough to win outright against his nearest challenger, his former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah.
The race went to a run-off, but Abdullah pulled out, effectively giving the win to Karzai.