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Top UN envoy rebuffs accusations of partiality in Afghan polls

8 October 2009 – Rejecting “unacceptable” media accusations ranging from partiality in Afghanistan’s presidential election process to fraud concealment, the top United Nations envoy to the South Asian nation today reiterated his resolve to do all he can to ensure that a final outcome to the polls is determined.

“My silence is now being exploited, to a point where these allegations are impeding the ongoing election process,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said in a statement.

“I have been motivated by my determination to make every effort to bring the election process to a conclusion,” he added.

The audit of suspicious ballot boxes being carried out by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) and Independent Election Commission (IEC), in the presence of monitors and candidates’ representatives, is nearing an end.

“We need to allow both these bodies, which were created under the laws of this country, to conclude their investigations, identify fraud, and deliver a credible result in the next few days,” Mr. Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said.

The mission reported yesterday that just over 100 of the 358 suspicious ballot boxes remain to be examined by the auditing process, with the remaining boxes slated to be inspected today.

The Special Representative also underscored in today’s statement that “the accusations that the United Nations has covered up or that I asked for fraud to be covered up are patently false,” adding that he plans to deal with these allegations “at the appropriate time.”

The world body, he said, is mandated by the Security Council to support the election process but not to interfere in it. “This has been, and remains, the basis of all my efforts.”

Yesterday, UN officials stressed that the envoy has only ever sided with electoral institutions in the country’s recent presidential ballot, and never with any of the candidates.

In recent days, former Deputy Special Representative Peter Galbraith has accused Mr. Eide of favouring incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the run-up to and after the country’s 20 August election by allowing voting irregularities to occur.

“What Kai Eide did, what he was supposed to do and what he did very faithfully, is side with the institutions,” a Director of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, told reporters yesterday in New York.

“He was always keen and he still is keen to let the institutions work out the process,” said Mr. Weisbrod-Weber, who runs the Asia and Middle East Division of DPKO.

In the preparations for the election and in the aftermath, Mr. Eide has been dedicated to strengthening the ECC and IEC – especially regarding the rules and regulations governing the ballot – to make it as credible as possible, said Mr. Weisbrod-Weber.

Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet said yesterday that Mr. Galbraith made “all sorts of assertions that were not true and that are completely out of bounds with our mandate in UNAMA regarding the election.”

Mr. Mulet added that Mr. Galbraith wanted to close 1,500 of the 6,900 polling stations in volatile regions, a measure that would disenfranchise a large number of potential voters. The Government decided to close down 500 of the stations.

He also proposed to annul the elections and set up a transitional government, said Mr. Mulet. “The fact that he was proposing this unconstitutional change and establishing a de facto government in Kabul was one of the elements that convinced us that he was not the right person to be in UNAMA at this point.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled Mr. Galbraith from Afghanistan at the end of September, terminating his appointment with UNAMA.



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