UN wants to see better and cleaner run-off election, less fraud

26 Oct 2009

UN wants to see better and cleaner run-off election, less fraud

KABUL - The United Nations in Afghanistan today called for a “better” election in the 7 November run-off vote between the incumbent president and his runner-up in the 20 August presidential election.

“We do want to see a better run-off than we saw in the first round. We want to see less fraud in the run-off,” said Aleem Siddique, spokesperson of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In a press conference today, Mr Siddique also said: “There will be no let-up on the part of the United Nations in supporting the electoral institutions in this country so we can get the best possible run-off that we can.”

He revealed that UNAMA is now “talking both to the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and the other electoral institutions of this country, and supporting them in their efforts to have a cleaner run-off so that both candidates can have faith in the final outcome of the run-off – that is where the focus of our efforts are at this moment in time.”

“We need to give credit to the electoral institutions of this country, that they have taken us so far in this process,” added Mr Siddique as he pointed out that “all throughout the process, we have heard, this is not possible, that is not possible, but we are here now, preparations are now in full swing for a second round – this is happening.”

He called on Afghans to be “realistic in the efforts that can be made,” recalling that “at every stage, challenges have been faced and overcome.”

“We are now weeks away from the run-off, and we want to see a better and cleaner run-off than the first one that we saw,” said Mr Siddique, explaining that “the run-off that we are approaching is going to be far simpler to implement than the first round (as) there will only be one election taking place between two candidates.”

He said the IEC is now reviewing the number of polling locations and staff to be required for the scheduled run-off. “As a part of that, they will obviously be looking at staffing and there is likely to be a need for far less staff for the run-off. We have received assurances from the Independent Election Commission that there will be certain categories of staff that will not be rehired.”

“We heard that the IEC will not rehire staff who have either not followed procedures correctly or were complicit in fraud. But there are other categories (of IEC staff) who will not be rehired: those staff who are unavailable to participate in the second round and those staff who choose not to work as part of the second round.

“The significant reduction of staff we will see is part of that second round and should reduce the opportunities for irregularities to occur or for potential or attempted fraud. We look forward to the IEC finalizing these numbers in the coming days,” added the UNAMA spokesperson as he reiterated: “Let us make this very clear – these are Afghan elections, these are not United Nations elections. We are not hiring any staff, and we are not sacking any staff…”

By Aurora V. Alambra, UNAMA