As the audit process continues for the results of Afghanistan’s Presidential election run-off, top UN officials today urged the full commitment of the parties for the unprecedented and vital endeavour that should be completed without any further delays and interruption.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, noted that the world body was jointly requested by the two Presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, and also separately by the authorities of Afghanistan, to carry out its current role of coordinating international supervision of the audit of the 14 June Presidential run-off.
“At a time of political and electoral impasse and deep uncertainty the UN agreed to take on the responsibility in order to help the country,” Mr. Kubiš said.
“The candidates have invited the United Nations and the international community to supervise the elections, based on international best practice. We have responded to this invitation by mobilizing significant resources in support of the audit process being carried out by the electoral management bodies with international supervision,” the Special Representative added. “There is now no other option but to respect the Afghan people’s resolve to engage in the electoral process by making use of this robust mechanism that the two candidates asked for and we have constructed.”
The UN Development Programme’s Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (UNDP ELECT II) project had spent the last four years promoting the capacity of Afghan electoral institutions.
In response to the candidates’ 12 July agreement, facilitated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the rigorous audit is being conducted under multi-tiered international observation and supervision. This is to ensure the full implementation of the audit checklist contained in the agreement, including the supplementary UN recommendations.
In order to achieve this over the last few weeks more than 200 full-time international observers have been mobilized and arrived in Kabul to provide complete international scrutiny of the audit.
Similarly, UNDP ELECT II advisors have been supplemented by dozens of UN elections experts released from other UN missions around the world. Finally, Jeff Fischer, a senior international expert with decades of experience working on elections for the UN and other international organizations, has arrived to closely advise the Board of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on international best practice as it makes decisions to validate, invalidate or recount ballots cast in the run-off and has the discretion to apply special scrutiny to any ballot boxes he deems warranted.
A round-the-clock airlift operation was jointly launched by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United Nations to retrieve all of the approximately 23,000 ballot boxes to Kabul so that they can be audited under the full scrutiny of domestic and international observers, candidate agents, UN advisers and the media.
Accompanied by IEC officials, campaign agents and the Afghan security forces, some 95 per cent of the boxes have now been moved to Kabul without incident. The retrieval process will be fully completed in the next few days. Also in line with the request made by the two candidates, the ballot boxes are now secured by ISAF.
These extraordinary international mobilization and transport efforts provide the Afghan people with a mechanism to offer unprecedented reassurance that the popular will which they bravely expressed on 5 April and 14 June will be known and respected.
In past polls, operational constraints forced election officials to rely on sampling formulas or statistical trends to extrapolate the extent of fraud. For the first time, the current 100 per cent audit allows for every single ballot box from the run-off to be opened and rigorously inspected in Kabul before the Afghan and international public.