SRSG Tadamichi Yamamoto at a press conference after the JCMB meeting
KABUL - The following is a transcript of a press conference on 19 July 2018 about the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) meeting.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, at a press conference after the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board Meeting
Kabul, 19 July 2018
* * *
Thank you very much.
First, I would like to congratulate Minister Qayoumi for his assumption of this very important post of the Minister of Finance. We are delighted that Minister Qayoumi, at his calibre, is going to be there for us to work for Afghanistan and for all of us.
The members of the press, I would like to say that, at this juncture, this moment is a very important time for Afghanistan. We have just held this 21st Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, the JCMB. What was that for? Why did we have this JCMB? Every year, the authorities of Afghanistan and the international community consider the political and development dynamics of Afghanistan. This is the purpose of JCMB.
But this year, the meeting had an even more important purpose, as explained by Minister Qayoumi. It served to prepare for the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Geneva on 28 November. The Geneva Ministerial Conference follows the NATO summit, which was held very recently, where the international community gave very strong support to Afghanistan in the security field.
In Geneva, it is expected that the international community would provide continued strong support to Afghanistan in the political field and the developmental field. This is in response to the efforts that the Afghan government and the Afghan people are making, as has been explained by the Minister, in the field of reforms, elections, development and service delivery.
The undertaking of Afghanistan and the international community is based on mutual commitment. We hope that 2018, this year, will see a break in the clouds, that we shall see opportunities for progress to become a reality.
The Geneva Conference will happen at a very critical juncture, at a very critical time, with, we hope, peace on the horizon. It is going to be held five weeks after the scheduled parliamentary elections and five months before the expected presidential elections.
The Geneva Ministerial Conference also falls around the mid-point of the Transformation Decade. By the end of this decade, Afghanistan aims to achieve self-reliance. It provides us with the unique opportunity to review and assess the progress that we have made and look at the challenges and plan for the rest of the Transformation Decade, which ends in the year 2024.
So as you can see, this year 2018 is a year unlike any other year. It is a very important year for Afghanistan. The Ministerial Conference will provide impetus to make headway in Afghanistan on a number of fronts. The Minister has already touched upon them, but may I just reiterate. It has been agreed between the government and international community that in the run-up to the conference, the Afghanistan’s government and the Afghan people will, firstly, hold inclusive and transparent parliamentary elections. Secondly, to meet the IMF benchmarks. Thirdly, to roll out eleven national priority programmes. Fourthly, to complete the biometric registration of police as a key step in security sector reform. Fifthly, to enact legislation to spur private sector growth, which will be very important for this country in order for its economy to be sustainable. And sixthly, to make progress on combating corruption. There has been a lot of progress made in this field, but we are particularly looking at the execution of already existing arrest warrants.
So as you can see, in Geneva we will be focusing on the future of Afghanistan. The international community hopes to be able to assist the Afghan government and the Afghan people in building a good future. We have good opportunities, and yet we know that we still face many challenges.
I hope that the members of the press who are a very important force in Afghan society will also work together to bring about a bright future for Afghanistan and the Afghan people.
Thank you very much.
Q&A: Questions directed to SRSG Yamamoto by 1TV, Tolo News and Khurshid TV on economic benchmarks, reform and elections.
SRSG: Well thank you very much for those questions. I’m so glad that you are interested in the Geneva Conference. I really appreciate that. Now, on the IMF benchmarks. These are the macro-economic indicators that the IMF and the Afghan government had been working on to improve. We are delighted that actually Afghanistan is an exemplary partner for IMF. It’s been able to live up to the expectations of IMF, and I know that IMF deals with many countries, but Afghanistan is one of the really, really good partners living up to the expectations with lots of efforts. And I hope that this will continue. And I am confident that these indicators shall be met by Geneva.
On the reforms, are we satisfied? Reform is an ongoing process. Reform should be something that you should never be satisfied with. But I have to say that Afghanistan is making extremely good efforts and progress. I think we have seen real progress made, for instance, in anti-corruption. You know about the ACJC. They have been able to really come out with a concrete outcome. We deal with many countries. But there aren’t many countries like Afghanistan where serious efforts are being made with political will at the very top with good implementation. On that front, we are very impressed by the real commitment and efforts made by the Afghan government. But corruption is a very, very deep and difficult problem. It is pervasive within society. It takes lots of effort. More has to be done, but I would say that we are very, very happy with the way in which the government is working on this. The President, the Attorney General, and all the others concerned are doing their work really well.
On the elections, first of all, I not only sit here in Kabul, I go to the provinces. I meet with people in the provinces. I went to some places and met with people who are actually registering to vote. And I was very impressed. I saw people in line. Not people who had been introduced to me. I saw people in line. And they were eager to vote. They are eager to show that their vote counts. I think that’s why we have nine million votes. It’s very easy to be sceptical. But I think we should take this seriously. Afghan people have come out in nine million numbers. It is a significant expression of the desire of the Afghan people to say that they would like their votes to be counted. And I don’t think that anybody should belittle that. We should respect this desire of the Afghan people. So we are grateful and happy that there are so many votes and registrations.
I want to explain to you, as I have explained to you many times before, that this voter registration is very different from the past ones. Voter registration is conducted with voter lists created for each polling centre. So you cannot vote in any other polling centre than where you registered. So, for instance, if you register in one polling centre, and if there are only, say, 5,000 people registered in that polling centre, then that’s the maximum vote that that polling centre will get. And we all know who they are, because they all registered. This will be put into the database. There have been accusations in the past of ballot stuffing. That will not be possible with this new voter registration.
It is going to be very, very difficult to vote a number of times because the voter card has a hologram which is created outside of this country. It cannot be reproduced. It cannot be copied. It’s stuck. It’s numbered. It’s registered. If you don’t have this you can’t vote. So it’s very difficult to duplicate this. There are of course, I know, accusations of irregularities. The IEC, the Attorney General’s Office, the ECC are going to be looking into this. I understand that given the past experiences, creating a credible voter list is very important, and therefore we are working on this by assisting the efforts of the IEC and the Afghan authorities, including ACCRA. We feel that with all the efforts that we are putting in, in order to create, for instance, an electronic database for all the voters – the IEC has just hired close to 600 people to input all the data; this will be increased to 800 people – we hope that when you have this database, you can cross-check. If there are duplications, they will be weeded out. We hope that we are creating a reliable database, which I hope that the Afghan people can accept. Because it is up to the Afghan people to accept the elections.
I have said I saw strong desire on the part of people, real people, people in the street. Go and please talk to them. I’m sure as reporters you do. Please talk to the Afghan people and ask them whether they want elections, whether they want to vote. Not just to talk to people – but elections are owned by the Afghan people – and I felt that Afghan people want elections. And I also want to point out another thing. This is the first time ever that the election is conducted by the Afghan authorities. The international community is only assisting. Every decision is made by the Afghan people. Every implementation is done by the Afghan people. This election is an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned elections. It’s your elections. It’s up to you to make the elections credible and meaningful and worthwhile. And if you have found nine million people who want to vote, you should respect that.
* * *
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights. UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.