KABUL - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is encouraged by the high numbers of Afghans who turned out today to have their voices heard and to exercise their constitutional right to vote for representatives of their choosing in parliamentary elections.
These elections were the first completely run by Afghan authorities since 2001 and are an important milestone in Afghanistan’s transition to self-reliance.
Millions of Afghan citizens braved security threats and, due to technical electoral management issues, waited long hours to cast their votes today for a better future. Those voters deserve to be commended for carrying out their civic duty. Those eligible voters who were not able to cast their vote, due to technical issues, deserve the right to vote.
The Mission notes the immediate steps taken by the Afghan electoral authorities to ensure that no eligible voter is denied the right to vote due to technical failures: many polling stations will have extended hours tonight and those that did not open today will be opened tomorrow. The Mission also notes that arrangements are being put in place to enable citizens of Kandahar to vote next Saturday, after the polling was postponed due to recent security incidents.
It is now imperative that the country’s electoral authorities – both the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (EEC) – re-double their efforts to make sure all eligible voters are given a reasonable opportunity to cast their ballot.
All Afghan authorities and actors – including political parties, the government, candidates and security institutions – must demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding and completing the elections, and to protecting the integrity of the process, especially with regard to tabulating and announcing the results.
The United Nations has taken note that the Afghan electoral authorities have put in place numerous anti-fraud measures, and also has taken note that the presence of up to 400,000 observers and candidates’ agents, as well as political parties monitors, is serving to ensure the transparency of the elections.
The UN encourages observer organisations, political parties, candidates and voters to play an active, informed and constructive role in the days ahead to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process as votes are tallied.
Any citizen suspecting or witnessing fraud has a civic obligation to file a complaint with the relevant Afghan authorities, especially the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). Where credible allegations are made, Afghan law enforcement agencies should investigate expeditiously and, where appropriate, detain and prosecute those responsible.