NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, referring to the delayed election process in Afghanistan, said “it is important” for Afghan electoral organizations to ”finalize the counting” and “present their results.”
Afghanistan’s presidential polling took place on September 28, but logistical problems and allegations of fraud have bogged down the process and a preliminary announcement of results has been delayed. A scheduled vote recount has begun, but it is opposed by many campaign teams and clashes have been reported in provinces at local election centers between election commission workers and campaign team members.
Stoltenberg made his comments amid a NATO meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. The secretary general also affirmed NATO’s commitment to its mission in Afghanistan.
“NATO is there to help the Afghan security forces, make sure that they provide security. . . for free and open elections,” NATO’ s secretary general said.
Stoltenberg has also welcomed the release of the two American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) professors who were kidnapped in 2016 and held by the Taliban for nearly three years.
“We also commend President Ghani for his bold decision that made this possible,” he said, adding that “These are confidence-building measures. Hopefully they can move us closer to resumption of the peace talks and therefore also lay the ground for a political, negotiated solution to the conflict, the crisis, in Afghanistan.”
Both men were freed by the Taliban in the southern province of Zabul on Tuesday following the release of three Haqqani commanders on Monday evening, sources said. Anas Haqqani, Haji Mail Khan and Hafiz Rashid were flown from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan to Qatar, where, according to sources, they will remain under “house arrest.”
Stoltenberg also stated aid that NATO remains committed to Afghanistan.
“We will continue to train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces. We commend the Afghan people for exercising their democratic right to participate in the elections. It is important now that the different electoral bodies can finalize the counting and then present their results,” he said.