KABUL (Pajhwok): A joint investigation panel of the Stability and Partnership, the State Builder election teams and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has found that nothing like election related materials or biometric devices had been stolen from the IEC’s digital center.
According to Pajhwok Afghan News report, the Stability and Partnership election team led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on October 21 claimed during a press conference that the lock of IEC’s digital data center facility had been broken and demanded investigation into the incident.
Members of Abdullah’s election team claimed the lock of IEC’s digital centre was broken by special police force in cooperation with the IEC secretariat on the directives of the Presidential Palace.
After these claims, a delegation from the Partnership and Stability, the State Builder team and the IEC was formed on October 23 to investigate the issue.
On October 24, at 3:30pm the investigative team comprising of Maulana Mohammad Abdullah and Aurangzeb representing the IEC, Saranwal Qatai and Dr. Rustam representing the Stability and Partnership team and Yasar Moman and Syed Khalid representing the State Builder team, launched their investigation into the alleged lock-breaking incident.
A seven-page report of the investigative team, a copy of is available with Pajhwok Afghan News, shows that the seal of locks of rooms where biometric devices are stored were physically inspected from all dimensions and the number of seal lock matched with the number available with representatives of election candidates and observers.
The report further says that boxes where biometric devices were stored were opened in front of candidates’ representatives. After the inspection, it was found that the biometric devices were fully protected and no displacement had happened to them — a fact acknowledged by individuals present there. After this, the data of remaining biometric devices was transferred to the main server in presence of all observers.
Sixteen boxes and number of seal lock and its locking figures in the facility were inspected and it was learnt that all were fully protected and its lock figures similarity with candidates’ representatives and observers also protected, the report maintained.
It added: “After the multi-dimensional inspection, the door of a room where biometric devices are stored, its steal lock, lock number and biometric devices in compliance with a formal e-mail of Dermalog Company, we reached the conclusion that no robbery or seizure of election materials or biometric devices has occurred on the basis of misunderstanding that the gate of the facility where these materials are stored had been opened.”
The investigation team wrote that records of security cameras should be investigated and every person who entered IEC facilities without permission of the authorities concerned should be probed.
At the end, the report said on the basis of alleged violations, the investigative team had decided that Hameedullah Ahmadzai, IEC secretariat security advisor, Haji Lotfur Rahman, head of civilian guards of IEC, Syed Asghar, personnel of first Police Company and others individuals involved in this case shall be referred to judicial organ concerned for legal proceedings
Zabihullah Sadaat, acting IEC chief spokesperson, acknowledged that investigation of the probing team showed that no robbery or seizure of election materials had happened and nobody had entered the facility.
But the Stability and Partnership team demanded punishment for individuals who broke the lock of the atrium.
Faridon Khwazon, spokesperson for Stability and Partnership team, did not respond clearly to Pajhwok Afghan News regarding the investigation of the joint team. But he said the real perpetrator should be punished in the light of the security camera record.
Referring to the identity of the individual who broke the lock, Khwazon said: “Five persons were present there, according to the gate camera, which should be played.”
“For us, the punishment of the perpetrators by judicial organs is vital so that no one in future could dare to disgrace the national process,” he said.
Sayed Khalid Sadat, Ashraf Ghani’s ticket representative in the fact-finding delegation, told Pajhwok that the delegation had confirmed no attacks took place on the rooms of biometric machines or interference. Allegations for any type about the data or system were rejected and transparency in the process was assured, he said.
“It has become clear that Abdullah team’s conspiracy did not work. The excuse the team was looking for its defeat turned useless, when a team cannot prove its allegations, how can such a team claim winning election,” he said.
“When a team’s observers agree that sensitive election materials are not doctored while their leaders make excuses on TV screens for their defeat, winning of such teams seems impossible,” he added.
Abdul Qahar Farakh Siar, spokesman of the Attorney General Office (AGO), told Pajhwok that the IEC had not referred any person to the top prosecutor regarding the lock-breaking issue for investigation.
Yousuf Rashid, executive director of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FFEFA), criticized the IEC and said, “No election oversight institute has membership of this delegation, the presence of election oversight institutes is very important in such cases in order they share neutral information with public.”
He said they did not directly receive reports; but they were informed through media that persons somehow involved in the lock-breaking issue had been introduced to the AGO and it had been assured that the data was unaltered.
The presidential election was held on September 28 and the preliminary result of the poll was previously scheduled for October 19, but it was delayed for a week due to some technical problems in the process, according to the IEC.
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