H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador Permanent Representative to the United Nations, yesterday joined the Assistant Secretary General for Peace-keeping Operations, Mr. Atul Khare, in briefing members of the Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board (JCMB) on preparations for Afghanistan’s up-coming parliamentary elections, which will take place on the 20th of September 2010.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Tanin noted that the successful holding of free, fair and transparent elections were among the top priorities of the Afghan government. In that regard, he asserted the preparations for the polls were well on track, with candidate and voter registration already concluded.
He said Afghan national security institutions – the Afghan national army, police and intelligence services – were working in close collaboration to ensure the elections are conducted in an atmosphere of security. Nevertheless, he asserted that the prevailing security situation in the country remained a challenge and that under such circumstances, “a perfect election process should not be expected.”
Ambassador Tanin, however, underscored that Afghanistan’s expectation was that the elections would see remarkable improvements in terms of “transparency and credibility,” and “mark a milestone in the consolidation of Afghanistan’s democracy.”
On his part Assistant Secretary General Khare said all ballot papers and relevant material had arrived in Afghanistan. He also stated of the total number of registered voters, 376,000 were new voters, who did not take part in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections of September 2005. Forty percent of the new-registered voters were women.
He also alluded to the assessment of the Afghan national security forces of the security situation in various provinces, which led to the decision to close 797 polling centers which – owing to insecurity – were “declared not fit to be open” on the day of elections. In that regard, he also underscored the need for a “realistic perception of the election process,” noting that incidents of irregularity should be expected. He also said that the final list of all polling stations which will open on the day of elections will be available on the 18h of August.
Nevertheless, the Assistant Secretary General noted that the Afghan government and the UN were fully committed to ensuring a successful election process. He also called on the international community to contribute in that effort by dispatching elections monitors.