Thursday, November 26, 2015

President Karzai Announces Run-Off

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan announced on Tuesday that he had agreed to conduct a runoff.  He made the statement at a press conference, flanked by Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kai Eide.

He said he accepted as legal the results announced by the Electoral Complaints Commission and the Independent Complaints Commission. Preliminary results had calculated President Karzai’s lead at 54%, but after an investigation into fraud by the ECC threw out almost a quarter of all ballots cast, that number was reduced to just below the over-50% necessary to declare an outright victory. According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, if in the first round of voting no candidate exceeds 50% of the vote, a second round will be held within two weeks.

His announcement was welcomed across the globe as a statesmanlike decision taken for the good of his country and in support of the laws and Constitution of Afghanistan. From the United States, President Obama praised the decision, calling it “an important step forward.” He said, “While this election could have remained unresolved to the detriment of the country, President Karzai’s constructive actions established an important precedent for Afghanistan’s new democracy.” In addition, Secretary of State Clinton and Senator John Kerry publicly supported the decision. Echoing his president’s sentiments, he said “A moment of great uncertainty has been transformed into a moment of great opportunity.” He thanked all of those Afghans who had risked their lives and, in some cases, lost their lives to vote and to protect those voting.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon commended President Karzai “for the leadership he displayed” and pledged the UN’s full support to the ongoing Afghan electoral process, saying the UN would do its best to ensure a fair, transparent second round for the elections. Special Representative of the SG Kai Eide commented on the decision also, particularly congratulating the Afghan institutions that have played such a crucial role in the process.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown also welcomed the decision, and congratulated the people of Afghanistan for showing such “patience and resilience” during the long elections process.

The run-off will be conducted on November 7th. The IEC has said it is ready to conduct the elections on that date and has all materials necessary.

In his statement, President Karzai praised the courage of Afghan voters, who had risked their lives in the millions during the first round, and “call[ed] upon this country to take this as an opportunity to move this country forward and participate in this new round of elections,” adding that he hoped the international community would assist in ensuring that security for the new round would be in place on time.

Ambassador Tanin is appointed again as Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations as Chairman of the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.

In a letter sent today, H.E. Mr. Ali Abdessalam Treki, President of the 64th General Assembly appointed the Ambassador as chairman, thanked him for accepting the responsibility and requested that member states “continue to extend [their] full cooperation and support to the process of Security Council reform.”

Ambassador Tanin has chaired the intergovernmental negotiations process since the process began last February, as mandated by a decision of the General Assembly. Since then, Ambassador Tanin has overseen three rounds of negotiations.

The first round included five exchanges, one on each of the five key issues: categories of membership; the question of the veto; regional representation; size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council; and the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. The second round included three exchanges: the first on the concept of review or challenge; the second on the composition of the Council; and the third on voting, procedures and working methods of the Council. Finally, the third round included three exchanges; the first on all five key issues together; the second on the model including expansion in both categories of membership (permanent and non-permanent); and the third on the “intermediate model.”

As a result of the efforts of the Afghan Permanent Representative, member states moved forward with confidence in the process. Significant percentages of the membership participated in each of the three rounds, and member states from all interest groups were able to air their views freely. At the end of the session, President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann sent a letter to President Karzai, thanking him for allowing Ambassador Tanin to take on this important role, and expressing his appreciation for the work that Ambassador Tanin accomplished over the course of the year.

In September 2009, the General Assembly took a unanimous decision to continue the intergovernmental negotiations during the 64th General Assembly. The President of the General Assembly’s reappointment of Ambassador Tanin ensures that the process will have continuity and will retain the spirit of transparency and openness that categorized its first year. In the near future, Ambassador Tanin will continue negotiations with an aim to finding a solution on the reform of the Security Council that can garner the widest possible political agreement from Member States.

Ambassador Dr. Tanin condemned the Terrorist Attacks outside Indian Embassy

Ambassador Zahir Tanin today condemned the terrorist attack that occurred this morning outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan before he delivered a statement to the Third Committee. A suicide car bomb explosion was responsible for killing 15 civilians and two Afghan police officers, and injuring over eighty.

After condemning the attack, Ambassador Dr. Tanin said, “This was an obvious attack on civilians. The perpetrators of this attack and those who planned it are vicious terrorist who target innocent people, not just Afghan civilians but also our friends and allies.” The Taliban have claimed responsibility for this act, but did not say why they targeted the Indian Embassy. Ambassador Dr. Tanin said, “I want to extend my and my governments heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims.”