UN: Everything should be done to defend citizens' constitutional right to vote
KABUL – The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recognizes the efforts of the Afghan electoral authorities, as well as security forces and others, in preparing 28 September presidential elections under challenging circumstances. In the interests of enabling all eligible Afghan citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote for officials of their choosing, UNAMA calls upon the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), together with civil society, candidates and all other stakeholders working for transparent and credible elections to redouble their efforts before polls open.
“An emphatic message from delegates at last week’s UN Security Council session on Afghanistan was that the international community fully supports presidential elections taking place on 28 September,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
The credibility of any election is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders, not solely that of the IEC and ECC. Candidates, civil society organizations, media, ulema and others have important roles to perform, not least in looking to mobilize the electorate in exercising their democratic right to cast their ballot on 28 September. No one has the authority to disenfranchise Afghans who are registered to vote.
“Credible elections lie at the heart of any democracy, and the right to vote is in many ways a key symbol of the democratic progress made in Afghanistan over the last 18 years,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA. “Voting is not just a matter of civic responsibility, it is a way of protecting the achievements made in Afghanistan and showing support for peaceful political processes.”
UNAMA is committed to doing all within its mandated authority to support the IEC and ECC in the conduct of an Afghan‐led and Afghan‐owned election that is credible, transparent and inclusive.
Transparency is critical to the credibility of elections and the UN notes the high number of national observers from different entities who are slated to be present at voting stations on election day. Candidates are reminded to accredit their agents before the 21 September deadline so they can have eyes and ears on the voting, and play a responsible role in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process.
All candidates and voters are expected to play their part in safeguarding the integrity of the election and to refrain from engaging in any electoral irregularities. In any instance where there is credible room for concern about the commission of irregularities, then the ECC should be immediately contacted for them to carry out expeditious and proper investigations.
UNAMA commends the work performed by the security forces in supporting the elections, safeguarding the distribution of sensitive election materials and ensuring the security of the polling locations on and before election day so that all Afghans, including women, can participate.