24 June 2012 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Afghanistan signed an agreement today with the Embassy of Japan for a US$ 8.6 million Japanese assistance to prepare for “more effective” elections. The signing was witnessed by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan. Print a joint press release of IEC, UNDP and Embassy of Japan in English - Dari - Pashto
According to a joint press release issued by UNDP, the Embassy of Japan and IEC, the assistance will support the Afghan electoral authority, through a UNDP project, to develop “the professional and electoral capacity” of its staff and electoral officers at the Kabul headquarters and across Afghanistan.
The agreement will also provide electoral offices and warehouses in nine provinces: Balkh, Kunduz, Bamyan, Herat, Nangarhar, Paktia, Dai Kundi, Jawzjan and Laghman. “This support will contribute to IEC’s countrywide presence as an effective institution for electoral governance,” said the press release.
Afghanistan will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
“The project complements the ongoing electoral assistance project ‐ Enhancing Electoral and Legal Capacity for Tomorrow (ELECT II) – and contributes to the objectives of UNDP’s other donor partners – to assist IEC to plan and conduct credible elections and to better ensure the integrity of the process.”
Japan’s Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi expressed his expectation that the support will help Afghanistan conduct elections fairly and independently, adding that Japan has donated US$ 103 million since 2001 towards supporting Afghan elections.
IEC chief Fazal Ahmed Manawi said IEC is planning to develop the capacity of electoral officials and staff – lack of which has been a concern for independent election observer groups – and build necessary infrastructure in 34 provinces of Afghanistan in the next five years.
Jandad Spinghar, the head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), which is the largest election observer group in Afghanistan, said the only concern for him is the “lack of capacity of the election commission to use this opportunity”. He said the IEC needs to build capacity of its employees to make the optimum use of opportunity offered with support coming from the international community.
The top UN envoy in Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, told a group of the Afghan civil society leaders last week that the United Nations family stands ready to support the upcoming Afghan elections to make it “free, fair, transparent and full of integrity”.