17 August 2014 The United Nations in Afghanistan has welcomed several refinements made this week to that country's ongoing audit over the results of the presidential run-off poll, saying the improvements will strengthen the “integrity of the process”.
In a statement from Kabul today, Ján Kubiš, head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that all parties had a responsibility to ensure the delivery of credible results of the roughly eight million ballots.
"The objective of the unprecedented audit agreed to by [the two Presidential candidates] Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani is to identify and excise large-scale fraud from the millions of valid votes," said Mr. Kubiš.
During the last week several refinements were discussed in the Audit Management committee co-chaired by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and UN with the participation of the two campaigns and international observers.
"As we continue to learn every day by carrying out the audit, the IEC, the UN and the two campaign teams are working to tighten the procedures and criteria so that the demand of the Afghan people to separate fraudulent ballots from valid votes can be achieved."
The most significant of these issues was the new special scrutiny procedure, which commenced on 16 August. It was required by the 12 July Agreement reached between Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ghani, which allowed agents from their campaigns to request special scrutiny on ballot boxes that register certain results.
"Operationalising the special scrutiny provision is important to promoting broad acceptance of the result of the audit," said Mr.Kubiš.
Other updates include a process on how to identify improbable sequences of voter ID cards in voter logs, and further clarifications on what constitutes a ballot marked according to procedure.
"Now both candidates can have the confidence that the polling stations about which they had the greatest concerns will not just be audited but also receive full recounts under the close monitoring of the most experienced IEC staff, UN experts and observers."
The issues were raised by the electoral campaigns based on their experiences with the audit, which is expected to have completed 10,000 boxes by Sunday.
Following extensive deliberations on each issue, UN recommendations on technical matters and other issues were put forward with the aim to contribute to the audit overall objective of capturing and cleaning large-scale fraud.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue