The United Nations will select two international experts to serve in Afghanistan’s election complaints commission ahead of legislative polls scheduled in September, the newly-appointed head of the UN mission in the country said today.
“I had had a meeting with President [Hamid] Karzai a few days ago. The President told me that the international experts who will be a part of the Complaints Commission are confirmed to be international. And he announced to me his decision that, I as SRSG of UNAMA, will be selecting them,” Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, told a news conference in Kabul.
“So we are working actively in identifying two very senior, highly credible personalities above all sides who will be, we believe, reassuring to all Afghans. And that, in fact, they have enough understanding of the Afghan culture, tradition and mentality and, at the same time, sufficient gravitas to be able to assert justice and a fair approach,” said Mr. de Mistura, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The two experts would have “a very strong say inside the commission” to reassure Afghans of their impartially, Mr. de Mistura said.
Afghanistan’s legislative elections are scheduled 18 September, according to Mr. de Mistura, adding that UNAMA was striving to ensure that the initial technical and logistical electoral preparations are in place by mid-April.
He stressed that it was the responsibility of the Afghan people to ensure that the elections are creditable. “All of us, including the UN, will be supporting. But the final responsibility for their outcome and their credibility will lie with the Afghan authorities because these are and should be Afghan elections,” the UN envoy added.
The Security Council yesterday extended UNAMA’s mandate until 23 March 2011, realigning it to assist the Government in the transition to national leadership of the country's recovery efforts.
“We are going to be very attentive to the reconciliation process and whenever we can help through suggesting, facilitating confidence-building measures or even beyond that, bearing in mind that this is and must be an Afghan-led initiative. We are ready, we have expertise, and we will help,” Mr. de Mistura said.
The UN will continue to monitor humanitarian aid delivery to ensure that assistance from both the Government and the international community was reaching all those in need. The world body will also continue to speak out whenever human rights are violated.
“I continue reminding all concerned that civilian casualties are to be avoided because Afghans have suffered enough,” said Mr. de Mistura, a veteran diplomat who has worked in the UN system for 39 years.