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Statement by Ambassador Erfani at the 1003rd OSCE Permanent Council Meeting

Statement by Ambassador Erfani at the 1003rd OSCE Permanent Council Meeting in response to Ambassador Markus Mueller, Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan

 

Mr Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to join the previous speakers to strongly welcome Ambassador Markus Muller, Head of OSCE office in Tajikistan back to the Permanent Council and thank him for his annual report, where.

We highly appreciate the continued cooperation of the OSCE in Tajikistan to contribute in the capacity building in Afghanistan, especially when it comes to the training and exchange of knowledge for border staff in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The knowledge and skills that our border personnel are receiving from these kinds of training operations at the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, including Afghan women which we have seen on the slide, will help us combat the challenges which stand in the way of our journey to the decade of transformation.

I am positive that the efforts led by the OSCE office in Tajikistan have been successful and I strongly hope that after an evaluation the projects will be extended.

On this note I would also like to thank Ambassador Müller and his team for helping facilitate the exchange of experience and best practices in the area of mine clearance with Afghanistan.  Afghanistan as a long-term victim land mines, has made enormous progress in cleaning the landscape of millions of land mines, but millions more are still embedded across the country. Land-mines can be cleared and we have the human capacity to do so, however we still require funding, resources and equipment . Thus, we highly appreciate the help that we are receiving from the OSCE office in this field and are certain this will continue to be a productive relationship.

Dear colleagues,

The longstanding, close, brotherly relationship between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, two countries which share almost all common values, dates back to the friendship treaty of 1750. As we have heard from Ambassador Müller, the relationship between Tajikistan and Afghanistan continues to develop as we further our levels of co-operation, in the areas of combatting Organized crime, to logistical enhancements in infrastructure, energy and transportation.

Tajikistan and Afghanistan share a 1300km border, and thus cooperation among our border officials is essential. Of this border, much of it is marked by the Panj river, and we are proud that we have been able to rebuild transportation links between our nations. As Ambassador Müller has stated in his report, we will soon be able to open the 5th bridge in Shurobod district connecting our nations. This is another milestone in the cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and a testimony of commitment by both countries to the goal of regional connectivity .

Recent unfortunate circumstances have also shown the need for further cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the area of environmental issues. The mudslides in Badakshan show that Tajikistan and Afghanistan are affected by similar environmental problems. Therefore, we welcome Ambassador Müller’s report about the Tajik-Afghan workshop to discuss environmental issues, such as land degradation and deforestation.

Dear colleagues,

Once again I would like to express my sincere appreciation of the support that the OSCE has been offering to our friendly neighbor, Tajikistan, and to the Government of Afghanistan. We hope to see an extension of this OSCE facilitated cooperation and combined workshops where both nations will be able to profit greatly from this.

We are very grateful that Tajikistan has taken so many steps to support their neighbors in Afghanistan and wish them every prosperity for the future.

On behalf of Afghanistan I would like to reiterate our strong commitment to join our efforts with our neighbors in OSCE participating countries to address all remaining challenges and use every opportunities which remain essential for the security, stability and development of our region and beyond and we highly value OSCE’s contribution and supports to this end.

Concluding, we appreciate your efforts Ambassador Muller and we wish you and your good team every success.

Thank you.

Ambassador Erfani on the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat – 1002nd PC

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani responds to the presentation by Ambassador Ivo Petrov of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat At the 1002nd Permanent Council meeting of the OSCE

 

Ambassador Erfani made a brief statement at the 1002ND OSCE Permanent Council Meeting this morning, in response to the presentation of Ambassador Ivo Petrov, head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat. Ambassador Erfani congratulated him on his comprehensive report and lauded the excellent work being undertaken at the Centre in Ashgabat, especially in the areas of border management.

 

Ambassador Erfani expressed the Government of Afghanistan’s gratitude towards the country of Turkmenistan, which has shown constant support for Afghanistan over the past 12 years, during its transition. Through working together on the TAPI pipeline and cooperation through the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are engaging proactively together over a variety of projects.

 

Ambassador Erfani concluded that the recent meeting between President Karzai and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, HE Rashid Muradov, is demonstrative of the ever-evolving relationship and healthy relationship between the two countries.

 

-END-

Ambassador Erfani at the ACGM (OSCE) on the upcoming Presidential and Provincial Council Elections in Afghanistan

Mr Chairman,

It has been an impressive and hectic few weeks in Afghanistan since our last Permanent Council and Asian Contact Group meetings.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The elections held on April 5th, 2014 were a huge win for the democracy and credibility of the electoral process in Afghanistan. The positive momentum flowing from this day has given a tremendous boost to the confidence of the Afghan people and our national security forces, and hopefully, it also serves as an indicator to our international partners and friends that better times lie ahead.

Nearly 7 million afghans 36% women ignored the security risked , defined the Taliban and cast their ballots on Election Day to chose among 8 diverse presidential candidates.

Since the initial round which took place on April 5, the Independent Electoral Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) has worked tirelessly to examine the problematic nature of 444 polling stations, which required further inspection to determine the validity or invalidity of the votes from these stations before releasing the results. 291 polling stations have since been declared valid to count towards the election race. The remaining 153 stations were declared invalid due to a number of different reasons, a large number of which were due to the use of incorrect protocol on polling day: incorrect forms were used when filling out the ballot papers and could not be verified as official votes.

Following this initial examination of votes by the IEC, the IECC was given 2 weeks to evaluate complaints of fraudulent behavior which could affect the final outcome, in addition to evaluating the validity of decisions which were made by provincial councils at the polling stations. Based on IECC decisions, results from 331 polling stations have been invalidated and removed from the final tabulation.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On May 15, 2014, following the announcement of the preliminary Presidential Election results and subsequent investigations by the IECC, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has certified the final results of  the 2014 Presidential Election, conducted on 5 April 2014. In accordance with the Afghan Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of the IEC and the IECC, final election results, based on decisions of the (IECC), certification and announcement by the IEC cannot be amended (Article 14). The number and proportion of votes received by each Presidential candidate is as follows:

  • Dr. Abdullah Abdullah -#2,972,141 (45.0%)
  • Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi – #2,084,547 (31.6%)
  • Dr. Zalmay Rasool ‐ 750,997 (11.4%)
  • Abdul Rab Rasool Sayaf – #465,207 (7.0%)
  • Eng Qutbuddin Hilal – #181,827 (2.8%)
  • M. Shafiq Gul Agha Shirzi – #103,636 (1.6%)
  • M. Daud Sultanzoy – #30,685 (0.5%)
  • Hidayat Amin Arsala – #15,506 (0.2%)

IECC decisions

These figures reflect the decisions of the IECC on electoral challenges, as presented to the IEC on the afternoon of 14 May. To view comprehensive final Presidential Election results, detailing the number of valid and invalid votes cast in favor of each candidate, according to polling center and station, please refer to IEC website result page.

Run-off Election

In accord with Afghan Electoral Law, in order to be elected President, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of votes. In the case that neither candidate receives more than half of the valid ballots cast, a “run-off” (second) election will be held, in which only the two leading candidates compete. The candidate who wins the most votes in the run-off election will be declared President (Article 20).

In fulfilment of its legal obligation, the IEC will conduct a run-off election on 14 June, with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi, as the sole contenders.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Karzai, while strictly maintaining his impartiality, is committed to a swift and successful conclusion of the electoral process. To this end, preparations are well underway for the first ever democratic and peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan. All Government ministries have commenced their transition planning and are reporting regularly to the Cabinet on their progress, including lessons learned over the past decade and future priorities. An inter-ministerial committee has been assigned to prepare for the official inauguration of our incoming president. President Karzai is keen on holding this grand celebration within a week of the final announcement of the election results.  Of course we look forward to welcoming the dignitaries of all our international and regional partners to this joyous occasion, and will communicate a date to you as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The success of our fully Afghan-managed elections is an example of the professionalism of Afghan institutions and the culmination of our 13 year old partnership with the international community. Indeed our joint investments and sacrifices have not been in vain.  While we are incredibly proud of our electoral and security institutions, it is important that we recognize that their work is not yet over. On the same token, to ensure lasting success, it is crucial that the international community maintains its support and engagement in Afghanistan at this critical period. 2014 is an extraordinary year for Afghanistan. Along with exceptional and unprecedented milestones also come exceptional challenges. Our economy in particular has taken a hit as a result of the uncertainty and concerns surrounding the political transition.
Afghanistan has made remarkable progress in meeting its TMAF commitments, particularly with the recent passing of certain pieces of key legislation recently. To alleviate the economic pressures of the 2014 security and political transition, it is absolutely necessary that our international partners fulfill their financial commitments to Afghanistan. We are of course equally mindful and resolute to meeting our own obligations under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace and reconciliation will continue to remain a top priority of the Afghan Government in the years to come. The reconciliation and reintegration efforts of the last three years have laid out a robust foundation for peace efforts. We must maintain the momentum in the reconciliation process to help bring about lasting peace to Afghanistan.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we pass through this defining period in our history, we recognize that concluding our electoral process successfully and achieving a peaceful and democratic transition of power will be the litmus test of our young democracy. We are very proud that the work of the IEC and IECC in successfully implementing a democratic and legitimate electoral process thus far and are sure in our belief that they will be just as successful for the run-off in June. I am also optimistic that the Afghan people will once again rise to the occasion and take bolder steps in attaining a future of peace and prosperity by going out to vote in the run-off.

We are grateful to have you all as our committed and steadfast partners and are confident you will support us through this second round of the elections in determining Afghanistan’s new leadership.

Thank you.

 

 

 

HE Ambassador Erfani on the the work of the IEC/IECC and gender issues in Afghanistan at the OSCE

HE Ambassador Erfani delivers a statement updating on the outcome first round of elections in Afghanistan, the work of the IEC/IECC and gender issues in Afghanistan at the OSCE

HE Ambassador Ayoob Erfani gave a statement during the meeting of the Asian Contact Group at the OSCE, in which Ambassador Erfani briefed participating states on the outcome of the first round of the April 5th election in Afghanistan and to discuss gender issues in the ACGM. He noted that due to the results with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi as the sole contenders, a runoff election is to be held in order to determine the new President on June 14. Ambassador Erfani stated that despite premeditated challenges by anti-governmental elements within the country, over 7 million men and women, approximately 36% of whom were women, came to the polls and cast their votes, which showed a direct representation of the will of the Afghan people to achieve full-fledged democracy, stability and security in their country.

HE Ambassador Erfani, underlined the importance of a peaceful democratic transfer of Presidential power, which will take place in the coming weeks. He reiterated that the steps taken and the support given during the election process by the OSCE, ODIHR and the international community were key during Afghanistan’s decade of transformation in aiding the country in overcoming domestic challenges and for allowing the establishment of secure elections resulting in a more transparent and democratic Afghanistan.

Ambassador Erfani announced that he will return to the OSCE to deliver a presentation of the final election results and to give another briefing on the overall election process in order to maintain and encourage a high level of transparency between Afghanistan and OSCE participating states.

He contributed to the ACGM discussions on gender equality by reiterating the efforts of his government to enhance the protection of both women and children, who represent those most affected by conflict in the country. Additionally, the Afghan Government has made changes to its constitution which reflects the will of the Afghan Government to create a balance between men and women and to guarantee women basic human rights under the confines of international law. Ambassador Erfani noted that gender equality is at the center of Afghan political policies and will remain a priority in 2014 and beyond.

Ambassador Erfani concluded at the ACGM with his gratitude to those present and in the international community for their continued support.

 

-END-

Ambassador Erfani responds to address of the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, at the OSCE

Ambassador Erfani responds to address of the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, at the OSCE

Credit: Micky Kroell, OSCE

Credit: Micky Kroell, OSCE

Vienna, 30.04.2014     On April 30 at the 998th Permanent Council meeting of the OSCE, Ambassador Erfani sat on the head table panel of the OSCE with H.E. Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, who gave a presentation on the ongoing elections in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani responded to his address, thanking Mr. Kubiš for the continued support he has shown to the Afghan Government and people, and for the reassuring words of his presentation. Ambassador Erfani followed by giving a brief update on the elections in Afghanistan, which have been marked as a milestone in Afghanistan’s history.

 

Ambassador emphasized that the new government will continue the successful path into the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) and that the achievements in areas, such as: Women’s rights; Education; Media and Civil Society; Governance and democratization; Security; Foreign policy; Economy; Infrastructure; Repatriation of refugees; and Health, demonstrated the Afghan peoples’ determination to achieve a successful, stable and democratic nation. H.E. Kubiš concurred: “The Afghan people once again proved all the sceptics wrong,” he said. “You must witness a situation like this to believe in the stamina, in the courage, in the endurance of the Afghan people.” he said.

 

Ambassador Erfani stated that the elections may head to a second round. He expressed:  “Regardless of the outcome, the Afghan people already consider the 2014 elections as a national treasure, demonstrating the will of the people to overcome all obstacles in support of a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan. The newly elected President of Afghanistan will take office based on 1) the constitution 2) the results of the elections and 3) the free will of the Afghan people.” Ambassador Erfani reiterated that the new Government, whichever it may be will consolidate Afghanistan’s strategic partnership with the International Community; will enhance regional co-operation and will build on recent achievements, based on thirteen years of experience and will lead Afghanistan to a better future, where all Afghans can enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms. He concluded: “I wish to assure the International Community of Afghanistan’s commitment to emerge from this transition as a healthy member of our global family.”

–      END   –

998th OSCE PC meeting – Statement to update on the elections in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani- 
Update on the 5 April, 2014 Presidential and Provincial Council Elections in Afghanistan at the 998th meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council

30 April 2014 

Mr. Chairman,

 

I wish to start by warmly welcoming my dear friend and good friend to Afghanistan, H.E. Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, to the OSCE that he knows so well, and commending him for his excellent address.

 

Afghanistan became a member of the United Nations in 1946 and, for decades, has benefitted from the active engagement of the UN in the country. The Afghan people are confident that the UN, which has played a central coordinating role of the International Communities’ civilian efforts in Afghanistan since 2001, will remain a reliable partner inside the country for many years to come. The people of Afghanistan appreciate the supportive role of our partners, the OSCE, the United Nations and of course also you, dear Mr. Kubiš for your supportive and encouraging remarks following the historic Presidential and Provincial Council elections, held in Afghanistan on 5 April 2014.

 

Although after Ján Kubiš’s comprehensive address, I do not have much to add.

 

Let me just provide a brief update concerning the elections:

 

We understood from the beginning, and I shared my concerns with this room on previous occasions, that the 2014 elections in Afghanistan would not be flawless, nor an easy undertaking. However, we have encountered significantly fewer logistical problems and irregularities, when compared to previous ballots. We are confident that a possible run-off will proceed even more smoothly. The 2014 elections constitute an important milestone in Afghanistan’s history, for a number of reasons:

 

1)    The 5 April Presidential elections mark the first democratic transfer of power from one to another elected President, legitimized by an unexpectedly high voter turnout of almost 7 million, out of an electorate of about 12 million.

2)    The improved security situation on Election Day has shown the Afghan people and our global partners that the Afghan National Security Forces  are able to provide security for the people of Afghanistan and are capable of impeding insurgent attacks;

3)    The preparations and conduct of the elections made it clear that Afghanistan’s institutions, including the electoral bodies, rebuilt from scratch as of the end of 2001, are functioning well;

4)    Afghanistan’s women, enjoying equal rights, and youth, representing a fresh democratic outlook, have participated in large numbers and have changed the face of our nation for the better;

5)    Our free and independent media broadly covered the campaigns and greatly contributed to enhanced public awareness, which was a main factor behind the high voter turnout;

6)    Afghanistan’s civil society, acting freely and full of confidence, also played an important role in the run-up to the elections by promoting the concept of the democratic decision-making process, through open deliberation and dialogue, and also by acting as elections observers at the polling stations;

7)    And most importantly, the Afghan people as a whole enthusiastically participated in the elections, not only to select their new President and their representation in the Upper House of the National Assembly, but also showed courage to declare that they want to continue on their successful path towards pluralistic democracy, peace, equal rights and freedoms;

8)    Clearly, the success of the elections would not have been possible without the strong commitment of our international partners. Please be assured that your generous contributions and sacrifices will never be forgotten. Here, I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences and sympathy for the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people, including the three American doctors who sacrificed their lives in Kabul last week, and the five British troops tragically killed in a chopper crash. We honor them and their service in the spirit of humanity;

 

The aforementioned achievements are demonstrative of our accomplishments, which are products of our 13 years of close, cohesive partnership. However, many of our partners and indeed also some of our own people have shown concern, rather than confidence, in Afghanistan’s ability to sustain our accomplishments and to build on them following the end of foreign military engagement at the end of 2014. However, the 5 April elections have proved sceptics otherwise and demonstrated the strong message of the Afghan people’s rejection and denunciation of violence and commitment to democracy and freedom. Nonetheless, I wish to reiterate the necessity of the continued co-operation from our international partners, as decided at Lisbon, Tokyo and Chicago conferences, in order to 1) build up on the achieved progresses and advance our development and 2) respond to remaining challenges, including intertwined menaces of illicit narcotics and terrorism.

 

These elections are vital for the completion of the ongoing transition period at the end of 2014, which marks the beginning of a new era of Afghanistan’s co-operation with its partners, into the Transformation of Afghanistan towards a fully democratic, free and self-reliant country. Our journey for a better Afghanistan will continue and we will work hard to build on past successes in all areas including of Women’s rights; Education; Media and Civil Society; Governance and democratization; Security; Foreign policy; Economy; Infrastructure; Repatriation of refugees; and Health.

 

Let me highlight again the excellent performance of our two electoral bodies, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). The IEC succeeded with preparations for the elections and managed to announce partial and preliminary results in a timely fashion. Now the IECC labors to resolve all outstanding matters, including addressing all complaints and the final result will be announced on mid-May. In conclusion, regardless of the outcome, the Afghan people already consider the 2014 elections as a national treasure, demonstrating the will of the people to overcome all obstacles in support of a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan. The elections will go ahead as demanded by our constitution: Should that the results of the first round require a run-off; the IEC is ready to organize the second round accordingly.  The newly elected President of Afghanistan will take office based on 1) the constitution 2) the results of the elections and 3) the free will of the Afghan people.

 

The new Government will consolidate our strategic partnership with our friends; will enhance regional cooperation as a main pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy, with our neighbours; will build on recent achievements, based on thirteen years of experience and will lead Afghanistan to a better future, where all Afghans can enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms. Let me again thank our international partners for their generous contributions, continued support and sacrifices. I wish to assure them of Afghanistan’s commitment to emerge from this transition as a healthy member of our global family.

 

Thank you

First assessment of the 5 April Elections in Afghanistan

Statement by

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani

first assessment of the

5 April 2014

Presidential and Provincial Council Elections in Afghanistan

at the 994th meeting of the permanent council of the OSCE

 

10 April 2014

Vienna, Austria

 

The historic Presidential and Provincial Council Elections were held on 5 April 2014.  Image:SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

The historic Presidential and Provincial Council Elections were held on 5 April 2014.
Image:SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Mr. Chairman,

Dear Colleagues,

 

On April 4, just one day before the April 5 elections, I made a comprehensive presentation on the status of Afghanistan’s preparation for the Presidential and Provincial elections before the OSCE’s Asian Contact Group Meeting.  Today, I wish to share with you the first assessment of the April 5 vote and brief the Permanent Council on the outcome of this historic event in Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman, I would first of all like to thank all colleagues for their statements at today’s meeting and their supportive and encouraging messages and comments on the 2014 Afghan Presidential and Provincial Council Elections that took place last Saturday. These elections marked an historic milestone in the democratic process of Afghanistan and bears testimony to Afghanistan’s decade partnership with the International Community. Let me express my gratitude to Afghanistan’s international partners, many of which present here today, for their continued partnership with Afghanistan. Following this historic event, the importance of this co-operation to serve the cause of a better Afghanistan and to stability in our region and beyond cannot be overestimated. I wish to pay tribute to all military and civilian officials who have sacrificed so much for Afghanistan. I also thank the Election Support Teams of ODHIR for their valuable participation in these and all previous elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime has been ousted.

Mr. Chairman,

As previous distinguished speakers stated, this vote has been one of the defining political events in Afghanistan’s history. Just before polling day, in my presentation at the meeting of the Asian Contact Group, I stated that we regard these elections as a major opportunity to strengthen our young democracy, in particular in light of the 2014 transition and upcoming decade of transformation 2015-2024. Today, I can proudly announce that the people of Afghanistan bravely seized this opportunity.

The outcome of these elections exceeds our expectations and marks the first democratic transfer of power in my country. I can also announce a record turnout and a record participation of women, at almost 40%. Also, Afghanistan’s large youth population, many of whom were voting last weekend for the very first time, are ready to mobilize themselves and to have a say on their country’s future. The Taliban threatened to “use all force” to disrupt the elections, yet clearly failed.

The Afghan National Security Forces succeeded in providing security and the brave Afghan people, yearning for democracy, security and stability in their country, came forward and withstood the bloody threats by the Taliban and adverse weather conditions. Neither the announced fire of the Taliban, nor the water of the intense rain stopped them from expressing their free will. This is textbook democracy exercised by the courageous and committed citizens of Afghanistan, triumphantly lifting their ink-marked index fingers in the air.

Mr. Chairman,

Based on all this information, we can safely conclude that this election was historic for Afghanistan. As a matter of fact there was less fraud compared to previous elections, better security in all 34 provinces, and enthusiastic participation of more than 7 million voters implying a better turnout than ever before. We also witnessed the commitments of the brave Afghan people, the improved preparation of electoral institutions (IEC and IECC), the active role of Afghanistan’s vibrant media, the strong campaigns of candidates, the committed participation of both local and international observers and the excellent performance of Afghan National Security Forces. The international press response to these elections has been largely positive, with the events that unfolded on Election Day being heralded as a resounding success. The elections also were widely welcomed by the International Community including the UN, EU, NATO and other partners and friends.

This election proves, once again, that Afghanistan has established all necessary institutions for a better future and we thank our partners in the International Community for their continued support during the Decade of Transformation. It is a fact that this election took place with an unexpectedly high voter turnout, despite vile threats from terrorist organizations, harsh weather and logistical barriers; and it is a fact that the Afghan people took this opportunity to say no to violence and terrorism but stood up defiantly for their right to vote.

Mr Chairman,

At the same time, we are aware that there are a number of issues that still need to be addressed, primarily in the areas of logistics, technicalities, alleged irregularities and possible frauds. However, the reports by observers indicate fraud in the 2014 elections was significantly lower than in the 2009 vote and it will not undermine the legitimacy of April 5 elections.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) are working hard to resolve all remaining problems; to respond to any alleged malpractice and election law violations and investigate all complains to secure the credibility of the elections.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, I would like quote a prominent female member of parliament: “It was my dream come true – That was a fantastic slap on the face of the enemy of Afghanistan, a strong rejection in the face of those who believe Afghanistan is not ready for democracy.”

Thank you

 

ANNEX — FACTS AND FIGURES

Turnout More than 7 million / 60% of the 12 million electorate
Female participation 40 %
Active polling stations 6218  (out of 6423)
Partial results to be announced At the end of this week
Announcement of Preliminary Results of Presidential Election 28 Apr
Presidential Election Complaints Period 7 Apr – 27 Apr
Adjudication of Complaints of Presidential Election 7 Apr – 7 May
ECC Final Decision and Its Submission to IEC 8 May
Presidential Election Final Results Announcement 14 May
Implementation of IEC Decision 22 May
Presidential Election Run-off 28 May
Counting of Votes of Provincial Councils Elections 21 Apr – 12 May
Announcement of Preliminary Results of the Provincial Councils Election 17 May
Adjudication of Complaints of Provincial Council Elections 22 Apr – 30 May
ECC Final Decision and Its Submission to IEC 31 May
Provincial Councils Election Final Results Announcement 7 Jun

 

 

Appointment of OSCE Chief monitor Special Mission to Ukraine is welcomed


H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Apakan of Turkey as Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

Vienna, 10 April 2014

At today’s meeting of the OSCE’s Permanent Council, Ambassador Erfani welcomed the appointment of Ambassador Ertogrül Apakan of Turkey as Chief Monitor and of Mr. Mark Etherington of the United Kingdom and Mr. Alexander Hug of Switzerland as Deputy Chief Monitors of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, as announced by the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship.

“I had the privilege to work with Ambassador Apakan at the United Nations in New York, and I know that he brings vast experience and expertise to this mission”, Ambassador Erfani said. “I can only congratulate the OSCE for appointing such a seasoned diplomat in these difficult times for this sensitive mission – and I wish you, dear Ambassador, and your team every success for this challenging and important task”, Ambassador Erfani concluded.

 -END-

A provisional assessment of the 5 April election in Afghanistan

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani provides a provisional assessment of the 5 April election in Afghanistan

Vienna, 10 April 2014

Today at the OSCE, Ambassador Erfani provided a provisional assessment of the Afghan Presidential and Provincial Council elections held on 5 April 2014. In his statement before the meeting of the Permanent Council, the Ambassador expressed his appreciation to Afghanistan’s international partners, many of which OSCE participating States (including the delegations of the EU, the United States, Canada, the Russian Federation and Turkey) for their continued support and encouraging statements following the elections. He also highlighted the valuable OSCE/ODIHR Election Support Teams’ recommendations over the past ten years, and paid tribute to all military and civilian officials who have sacrificed so much for Afghanistan.

“Before polling day we stated that we regard these elections as a major opportunity to strengthen our young democracy, in particular in light of the 2014 transition and upcoming decade of transformation 2015-2024. Today I can proudly announce that the people of Afghanistan bravely seized this opportunity”, he said with reference to the historical significance of the vote.

Ambassador Erfani emphasized the record overall turnout and the record participation of women and the young, as well as the clear failure of the Taliban and other terrorists to disrupt the elections, due to the clinical job performed by the Afghan National Security Forces and the strong will of the Afghan people. The vibrant free media in the country clearly did an excellent job of publicizing the elections and informing the population, as over 7 million Afghans voted that day for the future of their country, an increase of over 50% on the participation in the 2009 elections. One particularly welcome statistic is that female participation currently looks to have been around 40%.

H.E. Ayoob Erfani also made reference to remaining election-related challenges, primarily in the areas of logistics and technicalities, and security: “I will admit that Afghanistan faced its fair share of challenges on Election Day with security being a major issue”, he stated. He then explained the elections roadmap for the next month and the role of both the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Election Complaints Commission.

In conclusion, Mr. Ambassador quoted a number of positive remarks made by world leaders, praising the success of the electoral process, reiterated the key role of empowered women and educated youth for a stable and democratic Afghanistan, and commended once again the Afghan people: “Neither the announced fire of the Taliban, nor the water of the intense rain stopped them from expressing their free will. This is textbook democracy exercised by the courageous and committed citizens of Afghanistan, triumphantly lifting their ink-marked index fingers in the air”, he said.

-END-

Statement of Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani on the upcoming Presidential and Provincial Council Elections in Afghanistan

PRESENTATION BY H.E. AMBASSADOR AYOOB ERFANI AT THE OSCE’S 2 ND MEETING OF THE ASIAN CONTACT GROUP ON THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL AND PROVINCIAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

 4 APRIL 2014

Statement by Ambassador Erfani at the OSCE on Afghan Elections April 5

Statement by Ambassador Erfani at the OSCE on Afghan Elections April 5

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would firstly like to express my gratitude to the Ukrainian Chair of the Asian Contact Group, H.E. Ambassador Igor Prokopchuk, for organizing today’s second meeting of the Asian Contact Group. Let me also thank H.E. Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE Permanent Council, as well as the Secretariat, for their close partnership with Afghanistan. Afghanistan highly values its partnership with the OSCE and I would like to emphasize the importance of this partnership in fostering stability in our region.  I also wish to welcome the other speakers at today’s meeting of the OSCE’s Asian Contact Group.

There are now 13 hours and 40 minutes remaining until voting opens for one of the defining political events in Afghanistan’s history: the Presidential and Provincial Council Elections of 2014.

I thank you, therefore, for providing me with the opportunity to discuss the latest developments surrounding these historic elections. Afghanistan regards this year’s elections as a major opportunity to strengthen our young democracy, in particular in light of the 2014 transition and upcoming decade of transformation 2015-2024. Afghanistan became an OSCE Partner for Co-operation in April 2003 and significant progress has since been achieved based on the Afghan Constitution of 2004, which codifies free, universal, secret and direct elections. This progress includes the adoption of legislation and the creation of electoral institutions. Let me hereby express my appreciation of the valuable ODIHR recommendations, which contributed to this process.  

Dear Colleagues,

Tomorrow, Afghan citizens will go to the polls in their millions to elect the new President. This is a historic moment in Afghanistan’s history. The 2014 presidential elections will be the first democratic transfer of power ever in the history of Afghanistan based on our 2004 Constitution. It will also be a crucial moment in defining our Decade of Transformation; Afghanistan is currently balanced between trepidation and enthusiasm and a strong political groundswell is building across the country for the first time since the elections in 2004. A recent survey conducted by the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), indicates that more than 91% of respondents support the holding of these elections for April 5, and more than 74% want to participate.

Dear Colleagues,

I would now like to provide you on the slide, a brief overview of the five previous democratic elections held in Afghanistan since the removal of the Taliban, all of which were participated in by OSCE/ODIHR ESTs. There were two Presidential in 2004 and 2009, and two Provincial elections in 2005 and 2009, respectively, and two Parliamentary elections in 2005 and 2010. In the 2010 Parliamentary elections, more than 2,600 candidates ran for office and a total of 4,218,594 votes were cast. This proves that the people of Afghanistan have embraced previous opportunities to participate in the decision-making process of our young representative democracy, and I am positive that based on this experience the turnout will be even better this time around.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me express my appreciation to the OSCE for their positive response to the IEC’s invitation (dated 10 September 2013) to send ODIHR’s exploratory team to the country in January of this year. I am also thankful for their comprehensive report, dated 23 January 2014. Following this response, on behalf of the government of Afghanistan, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with H.E. the Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier, on 7 February 2014 on the deployment of an ODIHR Election Support Team (EST) to Afghanistan.  We are appreciative of the activities of the Election Support Team.

As part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen the electoral institutions in the country, two electoral laws were adopted in Afghanistan in 2013: The “Law on the Structure, Duties and Authorities of the IEC and the IECC”, which defines the composition and rules of the IEC and the IECC, while the “Electoral Law” stipulates voting procedure. Additionally, two elections-related Presidential Decrees have been issued in 2014: 1) the decree on Code of Conduct of Security Forces in Election Process and 2) the Code of Conduct for Government Department Officials and Staff. I believe that most of the recommendations of our international partners, including those recommendations made by previous OSCE/ODHIR ESTs on the independence, transparency, accountability and credibility of the electoral process are addressed within the new laws and regulations and their effective application is essential for the success of the 5 April elections in the country.

The IEC started its preparations in good time and developed a strategic plan to safeguard free and fair elections. Altogether, the Commission tasked with guaranteeing further transparency in the electoral process has issued credentials to 67 national observer organizations, 16 international observer organizations, 71 national media outlets, 45 international media outlets, 31 political parties, 7 presidential candidates, and 1,817 provincial candidates. As a whole, more than 265,000 observers, agents and reporters received IDs from the Commission, who will serve as election watchdogs, which is vital for the transparency of tomorrow’s election.  Furthermore, the IEC held consultation meetings with representatives of the presidential candidates and Afghan civil society groups, the most recent of which was held on 3 March, with the Free & Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA). FEFA, an Afghan NGO, is set to send up to 10,000 citizen observers to the elections.

In this context, Afghanistan is proud of its thriving, independent and free media landscape, which will certainly contribute to a positive outcome of the elections. Today there are 75 television channels and 175 radio stations, as well as hundreds of print publications, which are giving the presidential campaign wall-to-wall coverage. Also, the IEC’s Media Commission which started its work in December 2013 will oversee fair media coverage. Additionally, televised debates that have been broadcast on the nearly 80 TV channels positively affect our perception of a vibrant democracy. Afghanistan’s civil society and media and the Afghan people as a whole, particularly women and youth, have never been so deeply involved in an election.

As far as technical matters are concerned, I can inform you that according to latest figures, the IEC will set up 6,423 polling centers throughout the country. Furthermore, the election will be safeguarded by over 350,000 national and international security forces.

I wish to also quote UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, who expressed in Kabul on 24 March his satisfaction over the 2014 election preparations and reiterated the International Communities’ strong commitment to stay engaged and support Afghanistan in post-2014. He also urged all eligible Afghans to participate in the vote.

Mr. Chairman,

I will now present the latest information on the candidates and their programs for the Presidential Election on the 5th April.

Eight presidential candidates are running for office and each candidate has nominated two running mates designated as Vice-Presidents. President Hamid Karzai is not eligible to run, due to constitutional term limits.  This year, there has been a wide range of opportunities for coherent, successful and modern electoral campaigns including televised debates, articles in Afghanistan’s thriving free and independent media and many opportunities for candidates to travel around the country and share their policies with citizens on a first-hand basis, gathering huge crowds.

I believe that despite differences in their policies, most of the candidates running for election are extremely grateful for the sacrifices and support of Afghanistan’s partners in the international community over the past 12 years and share the importance of long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.  Candidates have been trying to share their vision and their programs in key areas of security, development and foreign policy, including on partnership with the international community. The candidates addressing the concerns and demand of the Afghan people, are promising to protect the progress that has been achieved since 2001 toward a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, including democratic values and human rights, in particular the rights of women and children. The candidates are all committed to fight the challenges of illicit drugs, corruption and other scourges currently damaging Afghan society and victimizing its people.

Excellencies,

I would like to provide you with some information now regarding the timeline and plans for the running of the elections. The election is in two rounds, similar to the French system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round among the 8 candidates, a second round will be held between the top two candidates on May 28. That means that although the poll is set for April 5th, the process may continue for a number of months. Information about the schedule of events following the run off is displayed on the current slide.  IEC printed 14 million voting cards and is prepared to service 13 million people at polling centres. Overall, female participation should be at around 40%. According to the IEC, the total number of newly registered voters for this election is 3,801,084 people, of whom 35% are female.

Unfortunately, although they are legally allowed to vote, 4 million refugees in Pakistan and Iran will not be able to vote this time around due to technical difficulties and lack of available funds of the IEC.

Announcement of Preliminary Results of Presidential Election 2014 24 Apr
Presidential Election Complaints Period 2014 7 Apr – 27 Apr
Adjudication of Complaints of Presidential Election 2014 7 Apr – 7 May
ECC Final Decision and Its Submission to IEC 2014 8 May
Presidential Election Final Results Announcement 2014 14 May
Implementation of IEC Decision 2014 22 May
Presidential Election Probable ( Run Off )* 2014 28 May
Counting of Votes of Provincial Councils Elections 2014 21 Apr – 12 May
Announcement of Preliminary Results of the Provincial Councils Election 2014 17 May
Adjudication of Complaints of Provincial Council Elections 2014 22 Apr – 30 May
ECC Final Decision and Its Submission to IEC 2014 31 May
Provincial Councils Election Final Results Announcement 2014 7 Jun

 

Mr. Chairman,

We are aware of the challenges facing the upcoming election. Given the threats on the part of Taliban to “use all force” to disrupt the elections, security has become our main focus. The Afghan National Security Forces are ready and committed to providing security on and after Election Day. International humanitarian law forbids all attacks targeting civilians and civilian structures; however, the terrorists have since carried out heinous targeted attacks against civilians, among them an attack on Kabul’s Serena Hotel on the 20th March and two attacks against the IEC office, killing civilians including women and children. The past month has been particularly deadly, with more than 100 civilians killed. Let me express my deepest condolences to all those affected by this brutal violence. In response to the attack against the IEC office, IEC officials stated at the “Women and Elections” program that the Taliban will not succeed in sabotaging Election Day, and I quote the Deputy Head of the IEC: “I advise terrorist organizations that your acts of terrorism will never undermine Election Day [or prevent it] from occurring”. All concerned institutions will take all necessary measures to secure safe, transparent and fair elections so that the legitimacy of the vote will not be thrown into doubt.

We are aware of the fact that circumstances on the ground are challenging. Spring is just beginning now in Afghanistan, meaning it is still very cold and many voters in mountainous regions will have to travel across treacherous terrain in order to vote. Public awareness of the elections in remote areas of the country also remains an issue.

We are determined to thoroughly address the problems of election deficiencies and low voter turnout. Afghanistan’s election bodies, the IEC and the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC), the latter tasked with solving electoral disputes, will respond to any malpractice and election law violations.

We must not allow the country to be destabilized again and cannot risk losing the trust of our people in democracy and the implementation of the Constitution. The terrorists’ strategy of intimidation unmasks their fear of elections and democracy, in neither of which they can play any constructive role. The people of Afghanistan will freely choose a new government.

Excellencies,

In order to reduce cases of electoral deficiencies, the IEC has presented a number of technical measures including better ballot protection. These measures include the issuance of new voting cards for 3.8 million people, 1.2 million of whom are women, with a view to avoiding multiple voting, which has been a concern including in the  recommendations made by previous ESTs.

Afghan authorities have done their best to respond to concerns raised by the international community. And as I explained in the previous slides, efforts have been made to address the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. As a young democracy with an evolving electoral system, Afghanistan is taking a long-term approach to electoral reform. We must bear in mind that full electoral reform cannot happen overnight and is a long-term process, which requires continued efforts. However, as shown by recent surveys, Afghans consider an inclusive electoral process as the best and only opportunity to express their free will, given the challenges they face at this juncture. A survey by the FEFA also reveals that most Afghans want to protect the gains of the last decade. The government of Afghanistan has already started preparation for the smooth and legal transfer of power and responsibility to the next elected administration in the country.

It is my opinion that without the full and equal participation of women, who make up more than 50% of Afghanistan’s population, we will never have a stable Afghanistan. This empowerment is essential for the education of the youth in Afghanistan, and is especially dear to my heart. Let me emphasize that during this election, women will be facing more challenges than anyone else, and it will take time for women’s full empowerment and their equal role to be realized. We are facing challenges, and these challenges will not disappear during the election. Despite this, I would like to provide you on slide, with some excellent statistics and facts about women’s participation in tomorrow’s election:

–          In the 2010 parliamentary elections, more than 2,600 candidates, 400 women among them, were running for office and a total of 4,218,594 votes were cast. In this most recent election, 39.2% of the total votes were cast by women.

–          The IEC remains committed to promoting gender equality at elections, in line with the international human rights instruments that Afghanistan has signed, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ratified in 2003. In order to achieve greater participation of women in the electoral processes, the IEC established a body for gender mainstreaming in May 2009. The IEC works hard to ensure higher levels of female participation in the electoral processes as voters, candidates, electoral administrators, and observers. As a result of this commitment to gender equality, more than 13,000 women will be helping with security during the election.

–          There are three female vice-presidential candidates running for election this year alongside male presidential counterparts.

–          30 percent of the appointed IEC staff members across the country are women.

–          Out of 1,450 community mobilizers appointed by the IEC in 34 provinces, 33 percent of them are women.

–          21 percent of the 3,198 regional election observers are women.

–          Out of 2,713 candidates running for Provincial Council positions, 11 per cent are women.

–          Out of 3.8 million new registered voters, around 35 percent are women.

–          41 percent of the polling stations in the country have been specified for women.

–          18 percent of the IEC election observers, both national and international, are women.

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

I wish to thank the United States and other OSCE participating States for their generous contributions toward our electoral processes, as well as our fellow OSCE Partner for Co-operation Japan for recently extending a grant to the IEC in support of free, fair and credible elections, following the signing of a USD 16.7 million agreement with UNDP. Furthermore, Japan stands as a long-term partner of the IEC in capacity-building and kindly contributed USD 82 million during the 2009 and 2010 elections. I am also grateful to the Swiss Chairmanship and give my appreciation to all OSCE participating States who contributed to the adoption of the 20 March 2014 Permanent Council “Declaration on the Upcoming Elections in Afghanistan”.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank all our partners here at the OSCE who have generously contributed towards the democratization process in Afghanistan since 2001. I thank them for the sacrifices they have made, and I wish to pay tribute to all the brave women and men who have served and supported Afghanistan in the spirit of humanity.

Excellencies,

We know the challenges that this election faces and we are not expecting the excellent one, but the fact that these elections are being held is the most important thing and reflects the way that democratic practices have begun to become a part of Afghan society.

An increasing number of Afghan citizens are realizing that elections such as this one are vital for the stability of our country. The Afghan people are committed to have tomorrow’s elections and remain undeterred by vile threats from the Taliban and other terrorists, in their desire to have their say on the future direction of their own country. These elections will happen, and these elections must happen. For a better Afghanistan.

I thank you.