Election ‘completed with credibility’ will be milestone in Afghanistan’s history – UN envoy

16 Dec 2019

Election ‘completed with credibility’ will be milestone in Afghanistan’s history – UN envoy

NEW YORK - The UN’s top envoy in Afghanistan said that when the 2019 presidential election is completed with credibility, it will become a milestone in the history of establishing a representative political system in the country.

Tadamichi Yamamoto told the Security Council on Monday that the 28 September presidential election this year improved considerably on past elections in Afghanistan, with much greater transparency.

The UN envoy, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the use of biometric voter verification devices seemed largely effective in detecting and deterring fraud, and several new check mechanisms throughout the process enabled the electoral management bodies to detect and eliminate fraudulent votes.

Nevertheless, he said, this electoral process has not been without problems. Preliminary results were to be announced on 19 October but have been delayed. The primary reason for the delay, said Yamamoto, is to ensure that the electoral process is as transparent and credible as possible.

Throughout the process, United Nations technical experts and international commissioners have worked closely with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

“I acknowledge and commend the leadership exhibited by both the IEC and the ECC,” said Yamamoto, highlighting what he called a “strong sense” among stakeholders that Afghan ownership must be maintained throughout the electoral process and must take root in the broader political scene.

At the Security Council, the UN envoy called on all stakeholders to enable the electoral institutions to exercise their responsibilities in full, including by addressing all complaints through the appropriate legal and institutional channels.

“Once electoral complaints have been adjudicated in accordance with the law, I urge the candidates and their supporters to accept the outcome,” said Yamamoto, who is head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In addition to presenting an update on the presidential election process, Yamamoto highlighted developments in human rights, women’s empowerment and the humanitarian situation. He spoke about the harsh realities of life for many Afghans and the human cost of Afghanistan's conflict, which continues to take a devastating toll on civilians.

“Whatever the outcome of the presidential election may be, peace will be the issue of paramount importance to the new administration,” said Yamamoto. “Even while we await the outcome of the elections, efforts for peace have not ceased.”

These efforts, he stressed, reflect the strong yearning for peace by everyone, particularly the people of Afghanistan.

“Through the past efforts in the peace process, some key issues have emerged which need addressing to make substantive progress,” said the UN envoy. “These include reduction of violence and ceasefire, as well as finding agreeable ways to build on gains made in the areas of human rights, justice and governance.”

Yamamoto said it is imperative that the new government establish inclusive mechanisms through which the views and interests of the entire spectrum of Afghan society, including women and youth, are reflected, and underscored the importance of coordinating all peace efforts to create synergy.

In closing, Yamamoto stressed that as Afghanistan expects a new government, the country and its international partners together have an opportunity to address Afghanistan’s many challenges and promote “rightful causes” in shaping a better future for the country.

“The key issues are peace, development, poverty reduction, human rights and accountability,” he said. “For the country to succeed in addressing these issues in the next years, the immediate goal is to deliver a credible election whose results reflect the genuine will of the Afghan people and are accepted by the broad range of stakeholders, particularly by the candidates.”

The United Nations, he said, will continue to work with all those concerned, both Afghans and international partners, to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan.