On Saturday 21, Afghanistan’s election commission announced Dr. Mohammed Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the winner of the country’s Presidential election. “The Independent Election Commission declares Mohammed Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the president, and thus announces the end of election process,” commission chief Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani said.
The announcement followed an agreement signed by both Presidential candidates on the formation of a unity government, under which Dr. Ghani will be the President and the runner-up, Dr. Abdullah, will be his chief executive.
While the commission chief did not declare the number of votes secured for each candidate or the turnout figures at this stage, but indicated that the figures would be announced soon. The announcement came months after political deadlock, a political agreement facilitated by the United States and other members of the international community and a subsequent audit process overseen by the United Nations and international observers. The process confirmed millions of Afghan men and women turned out to cast votes for the future leadership of the country.
Outgoing President Hamid Karzai congratulated Dr. Ghani upon his election as President. He noted the agreement between the candidates was necessary for the goodness and prosperity of the country. “On behalf of the Afghan nation, I am congratulating them on this understanding and agreement,” he said.
Representatives of the United Nations, United States, NATO and leaders of a number of countries also welcomed the conclusion of a long electoral period. Speaking on behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš remarked, “today’s announcement of the presidential election outcome takes the country an essential step nearer to its first ever democratic transition of authority.” The UN applauded both leaders and their supports for putting peace and stability of the country first.
On Saturday, 20 September, cyclists took to the streets to fundraise for the Afghan Women National Cycling team. The 100-mile bike ride began on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and was organized by the New York Cycling Club (“Escape New York”). H.E. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Lichtenstein to the United Nations, participated in the event.
The Women’s National Cycling team of Afghanistan has 10 members between the ages of 17 and 22 aiming to ride to the 2020 Olympics. Overcoming stigma and allegations that riding bicycles is “un-Islamic”, members of the team find freedom and self-determination through their biking group. Shannon Galpin, an activist working in Afghanistan to promote women’s rights since 2006 who has made a film about the women cyclists, argues the team is indicative of changing social mores for Afghan women who came of age in the post-Taliban era. “Young women who are in university and high school, young women who are educated, their families have promoted that and helped that happen,” she said. “These young women look at it very cut and dry: ‘My brother can ride a bike, why can’t I?’ They’re cognizant that they have this right.”