Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election was a key theme in the United Nations Security Council’s meeting on the South Asian nation yesterday.
A range of senior officials and government representatives stressed the importance that a successful and credible poll will have in helping the country on the path to stability and peace.
Afghanistan is due to hold a presidential election on 5 April next year, marking an end to the second term of the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai. The political transition coincides with a security transition currently underway, which is seeing the Afghan authorities take over responsibilities previously assumed by international allies.
Opening the meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need for broad participation and a credible process in order to reach the goal of a widely-accepted leadership transition through the 2014 elections.
“Let me stress that the elections are Afghan-led and Afghan-managed. Now is the time to take critical decisions. The Government has committed to making this an inclusive, consultative and transparent process,” Mr. Ban said. “I welcome the active and responsible participation by all stakeholders in building a widely accepted electoral framework.”
Afghanistan’s own Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Zahir Tanin, was among the first speakers at the Council meeting. He noted how the Afghan people are focused on a successful political transition, and “all eyes are on the election next spring.”
“The Government of Afghanistan is committed to fair, democratic, transparent and inclusive elections, in which the men and women of Afghanistan will again shape their political future,” Ambassador Tanin said. “Preparations for elections are well underway.”
Ambassador Tanin’s words were echoed by the US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice, who also noted that, in addition to an inclusive and credible election being critical for the country’s future, the poll was also critical for sustaining international assistance to the country.
“The results of this election must produce an outcome that is legitimately accepted by the Afghan people,” she added.
Ms. Rice also noted that the Afghan Parliament is working on draft legislation to further establish a lasting electoral framework, including independent election institutions, and said it was important that respected and professional leaders are appointed to election institutions after a widely consultative process.
Describing the 2014 election as an “important milestone,” France’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Gérard Araud, called on the Afghan authorities “to organize credible, inclusive, transparent and peaceful elections,” ensuring credible voter registration and an adequate electoral framework, strong anti-fraud measures and by guaranteeing the independence of the country’s electoral commission.
In his remarks to the meeting, the European Union’s (EU) Special Representative for Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, said that the EU welcomes and is committed to supporting the election effort – an election that “would be Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven, inclusive and transparent with a legitimate outcome broadly accepted by the Afghans.”
“We emphasize the importance of adopting a sound legal electoral framework, including the establishment of a credible complaints mechanism,” he added, while also flagging the importance of a robust mechanism for fraud prevention, and poll preparations which are transparent and inclusive and involve all relevant stakeholders.
Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski, also encouraged the country’s authorities to continue with efforts to strengthen the electoral process, while also mentioning concerns that the likelihood of irregularities and fraud remains high and “must be mitigated well in advance of elections.” He encouraged the Afghan Government to ensure that the electoral process is transparent and inclusive.