Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UN envoy calls for ensuring credible Afghan polls

UNITED NATIONS: The top U.N. official in Afghanistan has stressed the need to ensure that the elections slated for August are credible and that their results are accepted by all, noting that the candidates can contribute to this by campaigning with “dignity and fairness.” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan, made the appeal Monday on the eve of the start of campaigning for the presidential and provincial council elections.

“It is the shared responsibility of all candidates to ensure that these elections strengthen Afghanistan’s democratic institutions and people’s confidence in the democratic process,” he said in a statement issued in Kabul. He also stressed that “intimidation, inflammatory language and violence of any sort have no place in this election campaign.” The country’s Independent Electoral Commission has set 20 August as the date for the presidential elections.

The top UN envoy also encouraged all Afghans to take part in the polls, stating that “the strength and legitimacy of a future government and provincial authorities depends on the active participation of the people in these elections. “I therefore appeal to all voters to follow the election campaign closely and to cast their votes on Election Day,” he stated. Noting that the elections will be administered by Afghan authorities, Eide said the UN and the international community at large will follow the election process closely and give its full support to an election process that is fair and credible.

Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), met Sunday in separate meetings with presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to discuss the election process. He presented them with a set of “Essential Guidelines for Conduct during the Election Process,” which have been issued by the Special Representative and endorsed by the international community. They have also been presented to President Hamid Karzai.

The guidelines aim “to ensure a fair and credible election campaign in which there is a level playing field. “The aim should be to avoid illegal interference into the election process and the impartiality of government institutions, election officials as well as representatives of the international community. The guidelines are also intended to ensure fairness in the media coverage of the campaign,” according to a statement issued by UNAMA.