A senior United Nations official today urged Afghans to use this Saturday’s presidential and provincial council elections to shape the future of the country through peaceful, democratic means.
“This is your chance, this is your right; you should not allow anyone to deprive you of your right to go and vote and determine, by peaceful democratic means, the future of your country,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubiš.
His comments came at a press conference in the capital, Kabul, ahead of the end to the official campaigning period tonight for candidates in the upcoming polls on 5 April, which will lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power.
The elections come at a crucial time for the country, which this year will see the withdrawal of the majority of allied international military forces, with national forces assuming full responsibility for security countrywide.
“The election will mark yet another indispensable step in moving forward in building democracy, but also in providing the necessary legitimacy to the next leadership,” said Mr. Kubiš, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
He briefed reporters on the preparations for the elections – which are led and managed by Afghans – as well as his recent meeting with the Security Council in New York.
He noted that there was a hope on the part of the Council that the Afghan people will come through the elections “with flying colours,” given that the country is much better prepared for these polls than they were during the elections in 2009.
“Yes, there might be difficulties and security problems,” said the envoy. “Nevertheless, the overall preparations, the overall atmosphere is much better.”
Mr. Kubiš has also urged the country’s women to maintain and build on the momentum behind a recent petition – signed by more than 250,000 women and girls – calling for peace and a cease-fire.
In early March, the women’s committee of the High Peace Council, an Afghan body leading the country’s peace efforts, submitted the petition to UNAMA for onward transmission to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who received it on 21 March. Mr. Ban welcomed the peace campaign as another indication of the strong demands of the Afghan people for peace in their country.
Mr. Kubiš urged the leaders of Afghanistan and the leaders of the anti-Government elements to listen to the message in this petition from Afghan women and girls, adding that the UN stands ready to support them in these efforts in any way it can.