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Observers Skeptical About IEC’s Reported Progress on Biometric Devices

KABUL – The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on Sunday said that it has completed the process of installing new software on the biometric devices for eight provinces which have the ability to detect duplicate fingerprints of voters.
This new development takes place a few days after the commission officials confirmed reports about a malfunction in biometric devices that faced criticism of presidential candidate and election monitoring groups.
“We are also developing a website for them, but not for the parties only for candidates. They will be provided the password which enables them to check and monitor the forms online which come from the center,” said Habib-Ur-Rahman Nang, the head of IEC secretariat.
IEC officials said that over 100 employees have been assigned to install the new software to the devices.
“We are trying to resolve this defect. We are checking the biometric devices one by one which are supposed to be sent to the provinces,” said Mawlana Mohammad Abdullah, an IEC commissioner.
“Unfortunately, the commission escaped from the responsibility till the end of the issue despite there is time to finalize their plan about checking this,” said Yusuf Rasheed, the CEO of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. “Even now the shortcoming we have is the lack of a specific plan to determine the use of the biometric system.”
The IEC last year purchased almost 18,000 biometric devices for parliamentary elections from a German company, Dermalog.
Election observers said the biometric devices purchased from Germany are “not working” properly.
The IEC has so far trained 2,000 individuals to use the of biometric devices. The commission has appointed 110,000 employees for election day – half of whom are women.
In June, IEC announced the allocation of $30 million for purchasing biometric identification devices ahead of the September presidential elections.
The Afghan people prepare for elections at a time that rumors about threats continue to grip the process despite assurances by the Afghan security forces and their foreign counterparts.
Figures by the IEC indicate that almost 2,000 polling centers will remain closed on the election day due to security threats but more than 5,000 polling centers will be remain opened countrywide.
The IEC had considered 7,385 centers for the election day but only 5,373 centers will remain open, the IEC statistics show.
Kabul will have 558 open polling centers and only two polling centers will be closed in the province.
Almost 300 polling centers out of 462 will remain open in Herat which is a major province in the west of the country. Other provinces in the west such as Badghis, Ghor, and Farah will have the highest number of closed polling centers with 136, 111, 174 closed centers respectively.
But on August 30, IEC started the transfer of election materials to all provinces which was delayed for two days due to issues around malfunction in biometric devices.
Head of the IEC secretariat told reporters at the commission on Friday, August 30, that the process will end on September 11.
Afghanistan’s presidential election is scheduled for September 28.
(Sahar News)

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