2 August 2009 The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today condemned violent attacks on presidential hopefuls ahead of this month's national and provincial elections, urging all parties to concentrate on the political debate.
“There has been – and there is – concern about irregularities, and those are concerns that I share and I condemn, in particular, the attacks that have taken place on candidates and on supporters of candidates,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul.
Mr. Eide noted that the war-ravaged country had never “witnessed such a vibrant political debate in this country, and we have never seen such involvement by the public, as we have seen during these few weeks.
“It is critically important that in the next three weeks, we see a continuation of the political debate, and that we do not get into a situation where the debate is focused on irregularities and accusations and counter-accusations,” he stressed.
In a direct appeal to the media, Mr. Eide underscored the importance of avoiding incorrect or misleading reports that could inflame the tense situation.
He added that everyone shares the responsibility to ensure a stable environment after the elections on 20 August.
“All must conduct a campaign in a way that the results are accepted by the people. I repeat this is a shared responsibility. Whoever wins this election will have to govern the entire country.”
Mr. Eide pointed to a series of measures taken by local election authorities to avoid the possibility of fraud on the day of the vote, including the implementation of strict controls on the movement and handling of all sensitive materials, based on internationally accepted standards, and the deployment of observers and political agents at polling stations.
“The [Independent] Election Commission, security institutions and the United Nations are doing whatever can be done to make sure that a maximum number of polling stations are open on polling day,” said Mr. Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission to Afganistan (UNAMA).
Mr. Eide also voiced concern over the poor state of the country's prison system, highlighting the need for increased resources to improve deteriorating facilities, the importance of providing families of detainees with prompt information about their whereabouts and situation, and the need to bolster the justice system to ensure that detainees have access to the due process of law.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue