DI Calls For Election Results to be Respected

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Democracy International just issued the following press release.

For media in Afghanistan, please contact Mary Cummins on +93 (0) 796209934

In the U.S, Jed Ober at +1-928-202-0028 or jober@democracyinternational.com

AUTHORITY OF AFGHAN ELECTION INSTITUTIONS SHOULD BE RESPECTED

Kabul, Nov 28 – U.S.-based Democracy International, which deployed 80 international observers to September’s parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, on Sunday called on all Afghan and international stakeholders, including the Government of Afghanistan, to respect the final results announced by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC).

On Wednesday, November 24, the IEC announced final results for 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Final results are still pending for Ghazni province. The 2010 election process will not officially conclude until the results for Ghazni are announced as final and certified. Those who would interfere in this process and other legal processes reserved to the IEC should consider the impact their actions have on the respect the IEC has earned throughout this electoral process.

The presidential elections in Afghanistan in 2009 were marred by widespread fraud, and the IEC has since struggled to rebuild its credibility and to function as an independent election body. Many analysts and observers saw the IEC as complicit in permitting more than one million illegitimate votes to be accepted in the official results. The work of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) salvaged some legitimacy for that process and the current government by invalidating fraudulent votes and forcing a runoff election.

In 2010, the IEC and ECC have both worked diligently to detect and correct for electoral fraud and to ensure that the results represent the will of the Afghan people as expressed by their votes. Although this process has not been without fault, the IEC in particular has improved significantly upon its past performance.

“Throughout this election process the IEC has made real progress in building its reputation as an independent and impartial institution,” said Glenn Cowan, Head of Mission for Democracy International’s election observation mission. “The Government of Afghanistan should join all stakeholders in this process in voicing their support for the authority of the IEC and ECC to manage the electoral process.”

Unfortunately, this election process has revealed that many in Afghanistan continue to show disrespect for legitimate elections, particularly those candidates and their supporters who were responsible for the 1.3 million votes subsequently dismissed as fraud. Despite this attempt at massive manipulation, the IEC leadership has stood its ground and continues to try to hold back the political forces that attempted this fraud. 

Elements of the Government of Afghanistan have expressed concern with the results announced by the IEC and are seemingly taking steps to force a more preferred political outcome. This is evidenced by the Attorney General’s arrests of key election officials, including the spokesmen of both the IEC and ECC. The Attorney General has begun conducting interrogations at IEC headquarters in an apparent attempt to intimidate the IEC into making decisions not supported by facts or law. “The Government of Afghanistan should set an example by voicing its support for the IEC as the sole institution with the authority to announce final election results,” said Cowan.

On election day, Democracy International deployed 80 international election observers to 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. DI observed and reported on all aspects of the pre-election period and election day. The DI election observation mission continues to observe the post-election process with an international team of election experts and statistical analysts based in Kabul.

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U.S.-based Democracy International provides technical assistance and analytical services and implements projects worldwide for democracy and governance programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other development partners. Since its founding in 2003, DI has worked in more than 40 countries. DI organized and led international observation missions to elections in Pakistan in February 2008 and Afghanistan in August 2009, and in the last few years has also carried out election-related projects in Albania, Djibouti, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, and Sudan. For updated information on Democracy International, visit www.democracyinternational.com.

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