The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, on Sunday said that both the presidential elections and the peace process are top priorities to the UN, responding to some reports which said a group of presidential candidates suggested him to consider a delay in the elections.
“Neither process should be harmed or held back by the other; both processes must move forward with the full force and commitment of all stakeholders,” he reiterated.
A presidential candidate, Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, told TOLOnews on Saturday, June 29, that representatives of the presidential candidates’ council who held talks with Mr. Yamamoto, this week, suggested that the presidential elections should be held after a peace deal with the Taliban.
He said that the presidential candidates also suggested that a “caretaker administration” should be established until the upcoming elections.
Yamamoto, meanwhile, said that while there are clear links between these critical processes, as they both will substantially affect Afghanistan’s future, the United Nations will continue to do all it can in both areas.
“As I told the United Nations Security Council less than two weeks ago, the presidential elections scheduled for 28 September will be a key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure,” he said. “This vital political foundation needs to be laid to ensure that the vote will be credible, and the outcome accepted.”
Yamamoto said that all participants in the process – candidates, supporters, government officials, civil society organizations, national security forces, political leaders, political parties, media, the election management bodies, and voters – have an important role and collective responsibility to ensure that the process is credible and transparent.
“Afghanistan cannot afford a contentious and protracted post-election crisis that could result in a president with brittle democratic and domestic legitimacy, as this would harm the new president’s ability to bring the Afghan people together in a meaningful and representative peace process,” he said.
The UNAMA chief mentioned that in addition to fully supporting the efforts of Afghanistan’s electoral management bodies with technical guidance through the 28 September presidential elections, the United Nations will continue to work to support all peace efforts, which are of utmost importance.
“Attaining peace will require the efforts of many, but with the international community’s support for Afghanistan’s full ownership of the process, I am cautiously optimistic that we are moving in the right direction,” he concluded.
Last week, a number of presidential candidates at a big gathering in Kabul warned to boycott the elections if the “required reforms” are not brought to the electoral institutions.
The remarks come as the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a visit to Kabul last week said he hopes that there is a peace deal ahead of September 1st.
The talks between the US and the Taliban started on Saturday, June 29, in which they have so far discussed foreign forces withdrawal and intra-Afghan talks, according to analysts familiar with the negotiations.