Afghanistan to hold second round run-off in Presidential elections
KABUL - Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) today announced the final results of the country’s 5 April Presidential poll, declaring a second round run-off between the two leading candidates after none of those seeking the position achieved the 50 per cent plus one result needed to win in the first round.
“The second round of Presidential elections will be conducted on 14 June 2014,” the IEC’s Chairman, Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, told a news conference in the capital, Kabul.
According to the final results, which were compiled after the adjudication of complaints by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC), candidate Abdullah Abdullah won 45 per cent of the total votes cast in the first round of the poll, followed by candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who won 31.6 per cent of the votes cast – leaving both men to compete in the second round run-off.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has welcomed the announcement of the final results. In a press statement, the UN Mission congratulated the Afghan people, candidates, and the country’s electoral and security institutions on the conduct of the first round of the election, describing it as a “democratic milestone.”
“Afghans can justifiably be proud of their elections,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, in the press statement. “On election day, Afghan men and women demonstrated their desire to live in peace, dignity and prosperity. Democratic choice prevailed over violence and coercion.”
“I also commend all the candidates on a hard-fought but positive campaign,” he added. “With no outright winner declared by the IEC in the first round, I call upon the candidates to display respect for the results and statesmanship as the process moves to a second round run-off.”
At today’s news conference, Mr. Nuristani said that more than seven million votes were cast on 5 April, of which 64 per cent were by men and 36 per cent by women. A total of 20,561 polling sites were established throughout the country for polling day, but, of these, some 777 polling had no votes cast at them. Overall, the IEC Chairperson said, votes cast at 525 polling sites across the country were not counted because of frauds and violations of electoral laws.
The UN Mission also acknowledged the efforts made by Afghanistan’s two electoral institutions to increase transparency in polling, the counting of votes and the handling of complaints. It further noted that the IECC adjudicated all complaints that were formally filed before required deadlines.
“I encourage the IEC and IECC to continue improving their performance, based on the lessons learned from the recognised shortcomings of the first round. In particular, I urge them to make greater efforts to further increase transparency, to improve communication by responding quickly and accurately to issues raised by the candidates and observers, and to proactively explain their decisions to the public,” said Mr. Kubiš. “Afghans should have confidence that all valid votes will be counted and all fraudulent votes discarded.”
Campaigning for the second round run-off will officially begin on 22 May and end on 11 June, 48 hours before polling day. The IEC Chairman added that the preliminary results of the run-off will be announced on 2 July, with the final results announced on 22 July.
In his remarks, Dr. Nuristani also appealed to the Afghan public for a repeat of its involvement and enthusiasm in run-off, and reiterated that IEC staff members who had violated election laws and committed fraud during the first round of the elections would be punished accordingly.