UN envoy: 2009 elections – important achievement for Afghans

20 Aug 2009

UN envoy: 2009 elections – important achievement for Afghans

KABUL - The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide has said that holding the elections was a big achievement for Afghans.

The deteriorating security situation across the country had been considered the major obstacle for holding free and fair elections and some people were predicting that holding elections would not be possible.

“Now we see that elections have taken place across Afghanistan and I believe that in itself is an important achievement,” said Mr Eide to the media after polling centres were closed.

The Taliban have repeatedly issued warnings to Afghans not to take part in elections which many feared would result in low turnout and a reduced number of polling centres to open.

“Now we know that around 6,200 polling stations were open, the figure is not a precise one…but this is also an achievement,” added Mr Eide who is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan.

“It is clear that the number of people turned out in various parts of the country has varied. We do not know what the percentages are,” said Mr Eide adding “the fact that elections have taken place across Afghanistan is an achievement for the Afghan people.”

Mr Eide today visited a polling centre at the Zarghona High School in Kabul to see for himself how Afghans vote.

Mr Eide quoted a young Afghan voter who said: “I am not going to allow people with rockets to steal this country away from me and I want to go and vote.”

“I think that’s an attitude that many Afghans share. It reflects also that young Afghans, particularly, I believe, have confidence and belief in the democratic processes, and want to take part in those processes,” said Mr Eide.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the Afghans in the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and security forces and those who participated in this process for the achievement we can see today,” concluded Mr Eide.

By Homayon Khoram, UNAMA