UN: Fair polls key to peace, security in Afghanistan

Top UN envoy to Afghanistan says important decisions made now will affect society, future of country

UN: Fair polls key to peace, security in Afghanistan

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON

The UN’s top envoy in Afghanistan is calling on the nation’s political actors and institutions to work to secure fair elections.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in the war-torn country Monday, saying the key to peace and security is through fair and secure polls.

“I urge all political actors and institutions to perform their duties and act responsibly and to think of the Afghan people, bearing in mind the country’s bitter past,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Afghanistan is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on Oct. 20, but they have been delayed twice in the past year.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, which will be in charge of the polls, is facing pressure from the international community to restore trust among the Afghan people in the election process.

Afghan lawmakers are perceived as corrupt, and people fear the next parliament will be no different. Meanwhile, although potential voters must visit registration centers and get their identity cards stamped with special stickers, there have been allegations of massive voter fraud where IDs have been faked and stickers misused.

Yamamoto also criticized supporters of a political coalition in the country for blocking provincial election commissions, saying additional safeguards needed to be in place before elections can occur.

“These actions hinder the work of the IEC and jeopardize the holding of the elections on time,” Yamamoto said.

“At this critical juncture, the Independent Election Commission, as the lead institution on elections, will be looked upon to discharge its function with the highest degree of integrity, professionalism and with full accountability to the Afghan people.”

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