Ahead of run-off vote, UN official calls Afghan bodies to address shortcomings of first round

2 Jun 2014

Ahead of run-off vote, UN official calls Afghan bodies to address shortcomings of first round

KABUL - As Afghanistan prepares for the 14 June Presidential run-off election, a senior United Nations official has called on the country’s electoral and security bodies to address the shortcomings in the first round and work towards achieving “the best possible elections that can take place in Afghanistan.”

Speaking of the Afghan security forces arrangements, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, said, “I think they have learnt the lessons that were to be learnt from the first round.”

“We think that the election management bodies, i.e., the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and the IECC (Electoral Complaints Commission), have also conducted a strong and thorough lessons-learnt exercise,” he said during an interview, in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

While noting that the UN has been engaging with the candidates, Mr. Haysom stressed that they have the responsibility for ensuring that their campaigns are not conducted on the basis of race and ethnicity.

“We stress that candidates are the most important source of giving a guide as to how people should behave during the elections, making sure that people don’t mobilize on the basis of race and ethnicity and that they encourage to not to commit fraud,” he added. “We want candidates to say ‘we don’t want to benefit from fraud’ and say that clearly to their supporters.”

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

The UN system, particularly through UN Development Programme’s ELECT II (Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow II), is providing direct technical assistance in the organization of the Afghan elections. UNAMA has been coordinating international support for the elections, ensuring common messaging amongst the international community, engaging with and supporting the election institutions to conduct the best possible elections in Afghanistan.

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

[Click here for the full transcript of the interview of Mr. Haysom]