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Ahead of Afghan run-off election, UN calls for improved polling process

10 June 2014 – As Afghans prepare to vote in the presidential run-off, senior United Nations officials in the country are calling on key stakeholders to improve the electoral process, and reminding policymakers that Afghan men, women and children should be meaningfully involved in the peace efforts and future direction of their country.

"The run-off vote is an unprecedented event for Afghanistan's democracy," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš.

He renewed his congratulations to around seven million people who voted on 5 April for their "extraordinary performance" which led to a higher than expected first round vote.

"Afghans remain undeterred by attacks against the democratic process and are determined to take control of their destiny and provide their next leader with a full mandate and legitimacy," Mr. Kubiš said of the message that would be sent by Afghans voters in the two rounds.

On 14 June, they will head back to the polls to choose between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

There are expectations that the Commissioners of the Independent Election Commission and the Head of Secretariat will implement some technical changes in this second round. Candidates and observers, among others, recommended improvements to transparency and communications in the management of the results and complaints following the April vote.

Mr. Kubiš, who met yesterday with the Commissioners, stressed that elections are both a technical and a political exercise.

"Technical improvements alone will not result in a better election without the political will of candidates to respect the process and its results and to disavow fraud by their supporters, as well as for government officials to remain impartial," said Mr. Kubiš, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Meanwhile, Afghan civilian society groups and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission today released a report documenting how Afghans view their prospects for peace.

With information derived from focus groups and other interviews with 4,648 Afghan men, women and youth from all 34 provinces, the report summarizes a wide scope of ideas that are considered essential to achieving lasting peace in the country. The report includes 30 provincial-level road maps for peace, and a 10-point national road map.

Among the issues prioritized by Afghans are: disarming and disempowering local militias, tackling widespread corruption and impunity among the police and judiciary, resolving ethnic tensions, tribal disputes and factional conflicts which fuel broader armed conflict, respecting human rights and women's rights and providing equitable development assistance and service delivery across Afghanistan as well as improving the education system and empowering youth.

"UNAMA fully supports the findings of the Afghan People's Dialogue on Peace which is an important, inclusive rights-based peacebuilding initiative," said UNAMA's Human Rights director, Georgette Gagnon.

"Policymakers should ensure that Afghan men, women and youth are meaningfully included in the peace process and have a real say in the future direction of their county," she continued.

Ms. Gagnon added that the future Afghan leader should listen to the people's views and the solutions they propose and incorporate them into stabilization and development efforts.

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