Sunday, August 24, 2014
Kabul (BNA) with two-thirds of the ballot boxes from the 100 percent audit of the Presidential run-off election now processed, the United Nations urges the two campaigns of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani to cooperate fully with the country’s electoral authorities in order to bring the audit to completion at the earliest time. Any further delays only exacerbate the already heavy toll that the current uncertainty has on the political, security and economic environment, as well as on the lives of ordinary Afghans.
“An audit of this scale and complexity has never been attempted before anywhere in the world,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, “I commend all those who have contributed to the progress in moving this critical process forward to the point where a credible outcome will soon be known,” he said, adding, “Then we expect that both leaders and their campaigns will honor their commitments to respect the outcome of the process.”
“We expect that besides the rapid conclusion of the vote audit process, the two presidential candidates will also in at the earliest time reach an agreement on the establishment of a national unity government, which will lead Afghanistan from the current situation to stability,” said Mr. Kubiš. “The government of national unity based on partnership is the only option acceptable to the Afghan people and the international community. Speculation about any unconstitutional alternatives or appeals for civil disobedience can only worsen the current complicated situation,” said Mr. Kubiš.
The audit is unique for Afghanistan in terms of its scale, depth, observation, international supervision and the genuine joint responsibility given to the two campaigns for oversight of the process. The features of this ambitious exercise and the request to the international community to help implement it were set out in the 12 July Agreement reached between the two candidates.
With the need for the audit to begin immediately after it was agreed to between the two candidates, the United Nations and the wider international community have mobilized extraordinary resources, personnel and technical expertise to support this unprecedented process.
A snapshot of this support includes:
• Operating more 100 ISAF and UN flights to retrieve all 22,828 ballot boxes from around the country to Kabul so that each ballot box can be opened, audited, and, if necessary, recounted in the full presence of international and domestic observers, candidate agents, UN technical advisors and the media.
• Ensuring a thorough audit by supplementing existing IEC audit checklist and invalidation criteria with a comprehensive set of UN recommendations based on international best practice.
This high level technical advice was developed by two of the United Nation’s most senior elections officials, including the Secretary-General’s Advisor on Elections, Mr. Craig Jenness, and one of the world’s foremost elections practitioners, Mr. Jeff Fischer.
• Rapid mobilization of 216 full-time international professional observers to complement the over 100 personnel seconded from 17 diplomatic missions in Kabul and 337 domestic observers working to enhance the transparency and credibility of the audit.
•Rapid mobilization of 123 UN elections experts to supplement the 48 locally based UN staff providing technical advice and supervision for the audit. The mobilized have significant experience working on elections in international and post-conflict environments and include 20 individuals who have served as country lead or regional advisors on elections for the UN.
•Providing the two presidential campaigns with full access to the audit and genuine joint oversight over how it is designed and conducted, including allowing each of them to nominate up to 3,000 polling station boxes to receive special scrutiny.
Senior UN officials have met with the two presidential candidates more than 25 times since the start of the process to ensure that their views on the process are fully understood and incorporated into the process. “The UN is dedicated to playing its part fully so that the audit effectively separates valid votes from fraudulent ballots in order to determine the will of Afghan voters and promote the ultimate goal of helping Afghanistan achieve its first ever peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another,” said Mr. Kubiš, “Rarely have so many recognized experts and highly experienced electoral professionals been brought together at one time to support an elections process.”