STATEMENT ON THE ELECTION PROCESS BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL, STAFFAN DE MISTURA
12 August 2010 – The Wolesi Jirga elections are now only a little over one month away â€“ and we can see the countryâ€™s attention focusing on this event. Campaigning of the significantly large number of candidates has become more active and I am particularly encouraged by the active campaigns of women candidates. We maintain complete neutrality in this process, but we are committed to helping the Afghans have the best possible elections, which they deserve.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) is continuing to operate according to its electoral timetable. The last of the sensitive materials (ballot papers) arrived in the country last week. Operationally and administratively the IEC is on track. United Nations support to the elections has been as we promised â€“ effective but with a light footprint in deference to the growing capacity of Afghanistan’s electoral authorities.
I want to highlight some challenges ahead â€“ the primary challenge being elections security which could be the real spoiler of the whole process. We have already seen widespread intimidation with regard to female candidates, the killing of three candidates and other violence directed against a number of other candidates. This is unacceptable and we call upon the Afghan security forces to be on heightened vigilance over the coming two months.
We all know that security challenges will be a significant obstacle and we must ensure that poor security in parts of the country is not used to manipulate the votes of the people.
I note that the IEC has received the assessment from the security institutions on the polling centre locations and that they are now conducting their own verification to ensure the final list is a realistic one. This will be completed on 15 August. We are in agreement with the IEC that it is of paramount importance, including for operational reasons, and for the credibility of the elections that they be in a position to make this public by 18 August. Making this list public one month in advance of the elections is essential for the transparency of the electoral process. It will also show a marked difference and progress compared with the same stage of last year’s Presidential elections.
I am also pleased to learn that the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has undertaken to recruit, train and deploy additional female body searchers to ensure the security of female polling stations. It is imperative now that no further time is lost in this regard.
I want to encourage election observation missions â€“ both international and national. I also encourage candidates to register their own candidate and party agents â€“ these agents can make a significant impact in observing the whole election process.
The Electoral Complaints Commission has suggested that the voter registration exercise might be extended. The IEC, however, has taken the position not to extend this process any further. We fully support the decision of the IEC and its continuing efforts to take difficult decisions aimed at mitigating fraud and other electoral irregularities.
My final message is to the voters themselves. These elections are your elections. Follow all the candidatesâ€™ campaigns and their political messages to ensure that you can make an informed vote on 18 September. Your vote is the final decision maker in this important process in determining your countryâ€™s future.
Strategic Communication and Spokespersons Unit
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Tel: +93 (0) 79 000 6121; +39 083 124 6121; +1 212 963 2668 ext 6121