Transcript of the media encounter of Nicholas Haysom on election audit (27 August 2014)
KABUL - Below is the near verbatim transcript of the media encounter of the Deputy Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Nicolas Haysom on the status of audit of the results of Presidential run-off on July 2014.
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS ENCOUNTER
Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom
(near verbatim; edited for clarity)
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
The UN has been informed by the team of Dr. Abdullah that they have chosen not to participate in the audit process of the presidential run-off election of 14 June. The withdrawal is regrettable, but will not disrupt the completion of a robust and credible audit that will, within the bounds of the possible, deliver a result that Afghan citizens can have confidence in.
We have listened carefully to the reasons provided by Dr. Abdullah’s team for their decision, I am not going to respond to them item by item, but it is fair and accurate to say that all of the issues raised by both campaign teams about the audit process have been thoroughly discussed, in extensive and detailed consultations.
While many elements of the framework were agreed in direct consultation, some were the result of compromise formulations that were not on not either side’s wish list.
Self-evidently, candidates can’t set the rules of their own election, and that was accepted by the candidates in their agreement of 12 July. I should mention that at least one of the issues that they have raised was dealt with this week, and another one is receiving serious consideration even as we wait for full of details of the complaint from Dr. Abdullah’s team.
I can reassure you that the UN continues to actively look at the concerns about the audit process of Dr. Abdullah’s team, and we stand ready to address all issues. However, I want to stress that the UN performs a strictly impartial role in the audit and we take great care to do so.
The role of the UN has been and remains to assist Afghans in the implementation of a thorough and credible exercise, the outcome of which Afghan voters can rely on. We remain committed to supporting Afghan authorities in weeding out fraudulent votes from valid votes, respecting the valid votes of those who bravely voted and excising the votes of those who cheated.
In light of Dr. Abdullah’s team decision not to participate further in the audit, and in the interest of protecting the integrity of the audit process, today we requested the team of Dr. Ghani to review whether they should participate actively in the process. Underlining this request was a realization that the audit must not only have integrity, it must be seen to be even-handed by all Afghans.
Dr. Ghani’s team has agreed to withdraw from active participation in the audit process at the IEC [Independent Election Commission]. This will now place a premium on the importance of the vigilant participation of domestic observers and international observers and, from the UN’s perspective, we assured both parties that will continue to the best of abilities to be impartial, uniform, and consistent in our interventions and rulings.
So the audit will proceed now to its conclusion without the direct physical engagement of representatives of either the Presidential candidates. There was a pause this morning but the auditors resumed this afternoon and we do not anticipate any significant disruption to the process going forward.
The UN and its international partners will redouble their work with the Afghan electoral authorities to support the completion of a strong audit at the earliest time. We are conscious of the need to respond to two contradictory pressures; on one hand to maintain the integrity and thoroughness of the audit and on the other hand to expedite the process. Afghans are understandably impatient for a result.
The UN believes that both the 100 per cent nationwide audit and the formation of a government of national unity are vital pillars to achieve the credible electoral outcome and a peaceful transfer of power that the millions of Afghans voted for.
We note that both the Presidential candidates have previously committed themselves to accepting the results of the audit. In the same spirit we would want to support the continued engagement by both parties in the political negotiations. In reality the commitment to a partnership in a government of national unity should not depend on whether one is the winner or the loser. It is based on a recognition by both the candidates elegantly expressed recently, that Afghanistan faces enormous, even formidable challenges, security challenges, challenges in governance and economic challenges for which it requires not only a legitimate government but one based on the broadest level of support across the country, as well as on an unprecedented unity of purpose and a sense of shared destiny.
We continue to prefer a situation where both candidates are able to participate in the process, but we stand ready to address their concerns whether they return or not.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Ariana TV [translated from Dari]: As you mentioned that the two candidates will abide by the results of this process and you also mentioned that their views and recommendations have been incorporated in the framework that governs the audit process, but what do these actions mean? Why are they committing these kinds of actions? They want to walk out of the process and, of course, when one side boycotts the process, this will challenge the final results and the country will face a challenge. What do you think is the way out of that?
DSRSG Haysom: We understand in elections that parties compete in a competitive environment, it is an environment in which parties may have a low level of trust in each other and, unfortunately, in the electoral institutions. I think in the long term Afghanistan faces challenges in rebuilding trust between political actors and their electoral institutions. I think in the short term we would hope that the parties would commit to a common framework and a common approach to governance, and, as I mentioned, I would certainly hope that the parties would not allow their attitude to the audit to influence their capacity to find a political agreement and understanding of the future.
BBC: Of course you say that the UN is strictly impartial, no one doubts that, but isn’t international involvement at this level in the Afghan electoral process the worst possible outcome at this stage?
DSRSG Haysom: I would clearly want to underscore that this is not an intervention by the international community or the United Nations. This is simply a response by the international community to a request by the Afghans who set the parameters on how and what the UN will do. Even if they have, in this particular case, asked the UN to make definitive ruling on situations, it is in the context where there is a limited trust between the parties, and they have asked an outsider to do it, but only at their request, and within the limits of the authorities that they have given us. We certainly have always insisted that we respect Afghan institutions, the Afghan Laws and its Constitution.
1TV: This is Qyam Noori from 1TV media Afghanistan. Sir, Abdullah’s team has always insisted that we withdraw from the vote invalidating process because our rational and logical standards are not being considered by UNAMA and UN in invalidation process. So do you agree consider their request for invalidation process is logical and rational? Abdullah’s team will not accept the outcome of the invalidation process so does it put the whole process of election and political situation into new crisis?
DSRSG Haysom: Let me underscore that Dr. Abdullah’s campaign team has made a large number of requests and complaints to the UN in regard to the operation of the audit and the election and many of them had been logical. We have taken them on board and we have given effect to them. I would say that with the majority of the requests that we have done so. So I certainly wouldn’t say that there was not merit in those objections. The issue which we are now considering is a very serious one and we will treat it seriously. The elections in Afghanistan are difficult and they raise difficult questions both for the candidates but also for the election authorities to manage and I think we have to see it all in that context. I would want to believe that there is space for Dr. Abdullah’s team to both express its unhappiness with the process and continue to engage with us. But even if they are unhappy and don’t want to engage with us that they will still remain committed to working within the law and the framework for elections in Afghanistan.