UN envoy admits Afghan elections marred by fraud but denies cover-up

12 October 2009
SRSG Kai Eide addresses press conference in Kabul

The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has acknowledged that “widespread” fraud took place during the August elections, but stressed that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that the result reflects the will of the people.

“It is true that in a number of stations that opened in the south and south-east, there was significant fraud – but it’s not only there,” noted Mr. Eide, who added that “the extent of that fraud is now being determined.”

In recent days, former Deputy Special Representative Peter Galbraith has accused Mr. Eide of favouring incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the run-up to and after the country’s 20 August election by allowing voting irregularities to occur.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which is headed by Mr. Eide, did not monitor the elections – which were organized by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) –but did support the process.

“I have spent all my time over the last weeks for one purpose – and that is to bring this election process forward. That’s been a difficult process, marred by so many problems, not least, as you know, by widespread fraud. So it’s not been easy and that has been my only focus,” Mr. Eide told a news conference in Kabul yesterday.

“It is important to bring this country through this process and to continue this process of installing democracy in Afghanistan,” said the Special Representative.

Mr. Eide – who was flanked at the news conference by the ambassadors of the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany and representatives of the European Union and NATO – refuted allegations made by his former deputy about the election process, including “ghost polling stations” and discrepancies in voter turnout.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is in the process of auditing suspicious ballot boxes and other complaints related to the elections.

“I believe that the institutional framework we have created – whatever its weaknesses and those are weaknesses we recognize – I understand well that these institutions would, in the end, be able to remove fraudulent votes and honour valid votes,” said Mr. Eide.

“We are now at a critical juncture,” he stated. “We have put very solid mechanisms in place to ensure that those steps are taken correctly, and that the result reflects the vote of the Afghan people.

“And I do believe, therefore, firmly, that when the result is being certified it will be a result being made on a solid basis and that should be acceptable to the Afghan people.”


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