27 July 2009 With the fraught task of distributing millions of voting slips to thousands of polling stations successfully completed and campaign rallies in full swing, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan today praised the country’s election authorities for staying on schedule with preparations for the upcoming national and regional elections.
Some 17 million ballot papers and nearly 100,000 ballot boxes have been safely and securely delivered across the country, with full credit going to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Aleem Siddique, spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told a news conference in Kabul.
“Meanwhile we have seen candidates campaigning across the country – this is encouraging,” said Mr. Siddique, adding that voters “deserve a choice of not only who will lead the country but where they will lead them and Afghanistan.”
More than 40 presidential candidates, including two women, are running for the nation’s top post while over 3,000 Afghans are competing for provincial council seats during the 20 August elections, which are being organized by the Afghan IEC.
Mr. Siddique urged Afghans to pay careful attention to each candidate’s platform and to refuse any attempt to subvert their democratic will, encouraging them to report attempts to defraud the election to the authorities, who will deploy thousands international and national election observers to monitor conduct at the polls.
“Who you vote for is between you and your ballot paper – no one else will know who you voted for,” he said. “Vote for your country, vote for your family.”
Underscoring the important role played by Government security institutions and the international military forces, Mr. Siddique said that voters must have “confidence so that they can vote without fear, without intimidation, and in safety.”
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