New York: Addressing a special session on Afghanistan at the United Security Council, Special representative of the UN Security Council for Afghanistan Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto said that all stakeholders must ensure holding timely, and credible election.
As Afghanistan is poised to hold presidential election on 28 September this year, he stated that the upcoming election is going to be a “key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure”.
He also stressed that both the Afghan election commission, state instutition, international partners, political leader, and candidates must ensure holding credible and timely election.
“Afghan citizens have displayed an enduring commitment to choosing their political leaders through elections in the face of threats and adverse security conditions,” Yamamoto added.
He told the security council that last year, the Afghan people celebrated an “unprecedented three-day Eid ceasefire” across the country, which gave them hope of “life without conflict”.
The Taliban did not reciprocate the call for this year Eid, as he hinted that “the ensuing twelve months have also shown how arduous the path to peace is”.
“Yet the foundations laid over the last year are not lost”, he said. He also added that almost two months ago, thousands of Afghans gathered to exchange views about peace at the Consultative Peace Jirga and recommended further peace path to the government.
Stressing on the importance of election in his speech, Mr Yamamoto pointed to the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to prioritize the election in September as giving “much-needed clarity to the electoral calendar”, although “timelines remain very tight”.
Noting that the IEC has been taking steps, such as by finalizing an election operational plan, its budget, and starting voter registration across the country however, he he said that in order to hold transparent election, the IEC still ought to overcome “significant operational and technical challenges”.
“After last year’s highly controversial parliamentary elections and subsequent dismissals of all electoral commissioners, the most daunting task…is regaining public confidence”, Yamamoto stated. “The IEC needs to demonstrate that it can address the problems which marred the parliamentary elections and integrate the lessons learned into preparations for the upcoming vote”, including by training electoral staff, better public outreach plan and the timely roll-out of electoral technology.
Noting that UN is currently working both with the IEC and the Election Complaints Commissions, the Special Representative remarked: “The political stakes are high and competition is intense”. He went on saying that “Afghanistan cannot afford a contentious and protracted post-election crisis”.
“Vital political groundwork needs to be laid now to ensure that the vote will be credible, and the outcome accepted”, he added. “Afghanistan cannot afford a contentious and protracted post-election crisis which could result in a President with brittle democratic domestic legitimacy” and malign the peace process.
Referring to the Afghan peace process, the UN representative said that “The common message to the Taliban is clear: Come to the table and negotiate directly with the Afghan Government”, he emphasized, calling on states that enjoy sway over the Taliban “to intensify their efforts towards this goal”.
Consequently he stated that “there is no substitute for the Afghan people taking ownership and advancing their inclusive dialogue towards a peace process”.