Top UN official in Afghanistan meets with Herat leaders on elections, peace
HERAT - The top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, visited the country’s western province of Herat this week to meet first-hand with government officials and other community leaders to discuss several key issues, including elections and peace.
As part of his visit, Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, met with Herat Governor Mohammad Asef Rahimi to discuss the practical steps being taken in the western province to encourage Afghans to register for the upcoming elections.
They also discussed the peace offer made by President Ashraf Ghani to the Taliban, with both agreeing it represents a milestone for the country. Yamamoto said that the international community and “all neighbouring countries” support the offer, and expressed UNAMA’s interest in continuing to back local peace initiatives and conflict-resolution activities in Herat.
In each of the meetings with Herat’s leaders, including with other government officials, civil society members and women’s rights activists, Yamamoto listened to concerns about the current situation in the province and underlined UNAMA’s commitment to do everything in its power to support efforts toward achieving security, stability and prosperity for the people of Afghanistan, including supporting efforts to empower Afghan women at every level of the country’s social and political life.
To see first-hand the progress being made in the province on voter registration, Yamamoto met with the Head of Herat’s Independent Elections Commission, Daoad Sadiqzad. They talked about the registration process, which so far has led to several hundred thousand people in the province registering to vote, with 42 per cent of them being women.
“We are moving on the right track in terms of the voter registration process, and we expect a sharp increase in the number of people registering in the coming days,” Sadiqzad told Yamamoto. “We have started an outreach campaign targeting marginalized communities, including relying on local community leaders to raise awareness about elections.”
In addition to meeting with Herat’s IEC head, the UN envoy visited one of Herat’s voter registration centres, where he talked with electoral officials and those who had gathered to register.
“Elections are crucial for Afghanistan, and the United Nations is committed to supporting them,” said Yamamoto, emphasizing the importance of women’s active participation as voters and as candidates in the upcoming elections, and reaffirming the world body’s commitment to the protection and promotion of women’s rights.
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.