Afghanistan: UN welcomes arrival of observers for audit of run-off election results
“The arrival of a large contingent of international observers, in addition to the domestic observer groups, and UN experts is a powerful and tangible expression of the international community's commitment to Afghanistan,” said Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNAMA.
In a press release issued by the Mission, he said the deployment also reflects a deep desire by Afghanistan's international partners to respond to the two candidates’ urgent request to ease the electoral impasse the country faced by helping Afghan institutions conduct a comprehensive and credible audit, in accordance with best international practice and under robust international supervision.
As agreed by the two Presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, on 12 July, the audit will be conducted by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the full presence of international and domestic observers, candidates’ agents, the media and UN advisors.
More than 200 full-time international observers – hailing from the European Union and including its Election Assessment Team and the American non-governmental organizations National Democratic Institute, Democracy International and Creative, as well as Asian Network for Free Elections – will play a key role in providing complete international scrutiny of the audit, while dozens of experts from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will be based in the audit warehouses where they will provide advice on international best practices and provide good offices for dispute resolution.
UNAMA noted that today’s arrivals also include Jeff Fischer, a senior international expert on elections whose prior experience with the UN includes serving as chief electoral officer for the Popular Consultation for East Timor and heading the Joint Registration Taskforce in Kosovo.
In accordance with the parties’ agreement, the audit process will be internationally supervised in a manner proposed by the UN in consultation with the candidates. Assisted by other UN experts, Mr. Fischer will perform such supervisory functions and work closely with and advise the Board of the IEC on international best practices as it makes decisions to validate, invalidate or recount ballots cast in the run-off.
Mr. Kubiš called on the two presidential campaigns to honour their agreement to take advantage of the extensive international mobilization and goodwill through their participation in the fully transparent audit of every single ballot box which they themselves requested.
"Now that the complete regulatory framework for the audit is in place …this unprecedented audit provides a credible mechanism to address the concerns of the parties and the people so as to ensure justice and the legitimacy of the result of the Presidential elections,” Mr. Kubiš said. “It would be a disservice to the millions of ordinary Afghans who bravely voted across the two rounds if it is not made use of, if it is marred by further interruptions."
Under the 12 July technical agreement reached by the two candidates, the UN was asked to propose the manner for the international supervision of the audit, which involves the entirety of the approximately 23,000 ballot boxes from the run-off.
Any disputes or questions not responded to in a satisfactory manner in the audit will be referred to UN supervisors for advice or for resolution through its good offices.
The agreement also calls on the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to transport all the ballot boxes from the provinces to the capital, Kabul, with UN support. Accompanied by IEC officials, campaign agents and the Afghan security forces, to date ISAF and the UN have moved almost 75 per cent of the boxes to Kabul without incident.
Nicholas Haysom, Deputy Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Mark Bowden, visit premises of Independent Election Commission’s (IEC), which is conducting the audit of the results of the Presidential election run-off. Photo: UNAMA/Sayed Muhammad Shah