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Kabul, Sept 16 – US-based electoral assistance organization Democracy International (DI) today (Thursday) began the deployment of additional Election Day observer teams to fifteen provinces across Afghanistan as part of a 80-person mission to observe elections for the country’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament), scheduled for September 18.


Following the invitation of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), DI established an election observation mission (EOM) in March to observe the electoral process leading up to and following the Wolesi Jirga elections. The EOM has been active since the official announcement of the beginning of the Wolesi Jirga electoral process on March 25th.


DI deployed an international observation mission to the 2009 presidential and provincial council elections. Since that time, DI has maintained its presence in Afghanistan with a primary focus on observing the electoral preparations for the September 18 Wolesi Jirga elections. DI has periodically reported on election preparations and other electoral issues, most recently expressing concern about the continuing election violence and calling on the government to provide better protection for candidates and their supporters.


This week DI deployed twenty teams of Short Term Observers (STOs) across Afghanistan. They will observe all phases on Election Day, including opening procedures, voting, the closing of polling stations, and the count.


Their deployment complements that of nine teams of Long Term Observers (LTOs) who have been conducting interviews with provincial electoral officers, candidates, party representatives, civil society organizations, and voters. Since their deployment in early September these LTO teams have followed election preparations, political campaigns, the complaints and appeals process, and will join the Short Term Observers for polling observation on Election Day. DI will maintain observers in Afghanistan throughout the tabulation of results. The mission will issue a final report after the announcement of final results, scheduled for the end of October.


The DI mission is led by DI principal Glenn Cowan, who serves as Head of Mission, and Alessandro Parziale, DI’s Chief of Party in Afghanistan. DI’s mission is the largest fully international group observing the elections. DI’s delegation comprises experts in Afghan politics, democracy assistance, election administration and civil society. The mission consists of 22 technical and expert staff, 18 Long Term Observers (LTOs) and 40 Short Term Observers (STOs) from 18 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Palestine, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


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