Ahead of polls, Kubiš urges Afghans to vote and responsible actions from candidates and supporters

12 Jun 2014

Ahead of polls, Kubiš urges Afghans to vote and responsible actions from candidates and supporters

KABUL - Encouraging Afghans to take part in the upcoming elections, calling on the Afghan security forces to secure the polls, asking the country’s two election management bodies to fully implement recommendations to improve the voting process and urging responsible actions from the candidates and their supporters – these were the key messages of the top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan ahead of the country’s second round run-off elections set to take place this Saturday.

“Afghanistan is heading for one of the most important days in the modern history of the country: the run-off Presidential elections on the 14th of June,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, said today at a news conference in the capital, Kabul.

“I am convinced that next Saturday, the people of Afghanistan will – with the same determination, resilience and courage [shown in the first round of elections] – manifest their wish for a peaceful, prosperous, stable and united Afghanistan,” he added. “My first message from this press conference is to the people of Afghanistan: use the opportunity, deliver the necessary change, reinforce the fundaments of your future, take part in the elections.”

The Afghan Presidential elections, which mark the first-ever transfer of power from one elected leader to another in the country’s history, are in a run-off stage after none of the candidates in the first round of the vote, held on 5 April, achieved the 50 per cent plus one result needed to win. Two leading candidates from that round, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, are competing in the second round run-off.

In remarks addressed to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Mr. Kubiš expressed the hope that they would be “up to the task this time once again” with their “ability, resilience, capability and courage” to provide a secure environment for voters as was done in the first round.

Referring to the country’s election management authorities – the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – the UN official noted that they did a “good job in the first round,” while calling for “imperfections and deficiencies” from that round to be corrected in the second round.

“My appeal to the two election management bodies is: fully implement the recommendations and requests of the two campaigns – they jointly produced a list of recommendations – and improve the process in such a way so as to increase the confidence in your performance in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of the candidates,” Mr. Kubis said.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which Mr. Kubiš heads, has been coordinating international support for the elections, and engaging with and supporting the electoral institutions to conduct the best possible elections in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, the UN system, particularly through the UN Development Programme’s ELECT II (Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow II), has been providing direct technical assistance in the organization of the elections.

UN officials have previously said that the polls are critical to the country’s stability and continued international support.

At today’s news conference, Mr. Kubiš highlighted the importance of election observation in deterring fraud and ensuring the credibility of the election process and wide acceptance of its outcome.

Two leading candidates from the first round, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, are competing in the second round run-off. Photo: Fardin Waezi / UNAMA

“It’s critically important that the domestic observers are deployed in big numbers and they cover an overwhelming majority of the polling centres and polling stations throughout the country,” he said, adding that international observers can only complement the efforts of the domestic observers.

The UN Special Representative flagged the important role played by the two candidates in the polls, as well as that of their supporters.

“To the supporters of the two candidates: do not commit fraud, do not use intimidation or manipulation just to favour your candidate; go and vote as responsible citizens, but don’t commit fraud and don’t allow anyone to commit fraud or create conditions for committing fraud,” he said.

Both candidates and their supporters, he continued, needed to respect the work of the IEC and the IECC in managing the electoral process.

“Give a chance to due process, respect the work of the Commissions, don’t jump to conclusions,” Mr. Kubiš said. “Don’t make statements or comments in anticipation of the results… it will just mislead the people… control yourself, act as responsible politicians.”

The UN Special Representative recommended that the candidates work together in addressing and finding solutions to problems “because this is not only about who will be the winner – it’s about the country, about the stability and the future of the country.”

Millions of Afghan voters took part in the Presidential and Provincial Council elections, held on 5 April 2014. Photo: UNAMA

Responding to a question on foreign interference in the elections process, the UN envoy categorically rejected any such meddling.

“The international community is impartial,” he said. “It is interested in a good outcome of the elections, strongly supports and hopes and encourages the people of Afghanistan to decide for themselves who should be their leader.”

[Click here for the full transcript of the news conference]