The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has welcomed today’s announcement of the final results of the recent presidential election and stressed the importance of cooperation between the electoral institutions and candidates ahead of the run-off scheduled for next month.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) has set 14 June as the date for the run-off poll since no candidate received the required 51 per cent of the votes in the first round held on 5 April. The next round of polling will be between Abdullah Abdullah, who won 45 per cent of the votes, and Ashraf Ghani, who received 31.6 per cent, according to media reports.
“Afghans can justifiably be proud of their elections,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ján Kubiš, said in a statement. “On election day, Afghan men and women demonstrated their desire to live in peace, dignity and prosperity. Democratic choice prevailed over violence and coercion.”
With no outright winner declared by the IEC in the first round, Mr. Kubiš called on the candidates to display “respect for the results and statesmanship” as the process moves to a second round.
UNAMA noted that the process leading up to the elections represented an improvement over past votes, including that the polls were, for the first time, based on laws passed by the National Assembly rather than Presidential decree and they were fully managed by the two independent electoral institutions – the IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC).
The Mission acknowledged the efforts made by the two Afghan institutions to increase transparency in polling, the counting of votes and the handling of complaints, and encouraged them to continue improving their performance, based on the lessons learned from the “recognised shortcomings” of the first round.
“In particular, I urge them to make greater efforts to further increase transparency, to improve communication by responding quickly and accurately to issues raised by the candidates and observers, and to proactively explain their decisions to the public,” said Mr. Kubiš. “Afghans should have confidence that all valid votes will be counted and all fraudulent votes discarded.”
The Special Representative also recognized the role of Afghan observers in preventing and detecting fraud, noting that “their role will remain critical in the next round.”
Also crucial was cooperation between the electoral institutions and candidates in the run-up to the second round, as well as the responsibility of candidates to call on their supporters to refrain from “inflammatory rhetoric, intimidation, and threats.”