27 August 2014 The United Nations today pledged to redouble its support to the Afghan electoral authorities to help expedite the completion of a thorough and credible audit of the presidential run-off in the wake of the decision of one of the candidates to halt participation in the process.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, expressed the UN’s regret at the decision of Abdullah Abdullah and encouraged that it be reviewed.
“The withdrawal is regrettable, but will not disrupt the completion of a robust and credible audit that will, within the bounds of the possible, deliver a result that Afghan citizens can have confidence in,” said Mr. Haysom, who serves with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
He added that the UN will continue to be actively engaged in dealing with the concerns about the audit process from both Dr. Abdullah as well as fellow candidate Ashraf Ghani.
Given the decision of Dr. Abdullah’s team, and in the interests of protecting the integrity of the audit process, the UN requested Dr. Ghani’s team to review their own participation.
“Underlining this request was a realization that the audit must not only have integrity, it must be seen to be even-handed by all Afghans,” said Mr. Haysom.
After a pause in the morning, the audit resumed this afternoon in the presence of UN experts, representatives of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), and international and national observers. To date, more than two-thirds of ballot boxes have been audited.
“The process will now proceed to its conclusion without the direct engagement of representatives of either presidential candidate in the physical audit,” said Mr. Haysom.
“The UN believes that both the 100 per cent nationwide audit and the formation of a government of national unity are vital pillars to achieve the credible electoral outcome and a peaceful transfer of power that millions of Afghans voted for,” he added.
The UN also said today that it reinforced the expertise in the audit process with a senior elections advisor, Richard Chambers of the United Kingdom, taking up responsibilities to support the important adjudication period. Mr. Chambers will work together with the UN’s lead elections advisor in Kabul, Jeff Fischer.
The UN-supervised audit, which is run by the IEC, is unprecedented in scale and scope with more than 22,000 ballot boxes being individually opened and examined by electoral authorities and representatives of the candidates. In addition to the UN advisors, 216 international observers are present from the European Union, the Asian Network for Free Elections, and organizations based in the United States, such as the National Democratic Institute, Democracy International, and Creative Associates.
In addition, more than 100 personnel seconded from 17 diplomatic missions have also been engaged in the observation effort. There is also a sizeable number of experienced national observers from different respected Afghan organizations.
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