The Election Support Group, or ESG, which consists of major donors to the Afghan election process, issued a statement today urging political candidates to cooperate with the ongoing vote recount and called on Afghanistan’s Election Commission to “keep further delays at a minimum.”
The ESG is comprised of the following organizations and countries: the European Union, the Governments of Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic plus), the United Kingdom, the United States of America – as well as NATO and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The presidential elections were held on Sept. 28. The announcement of the preliminary results was originally scheduled for Oct 19, but it was delayed due to technical issues and additional actions were necessary to maintain transparency, according to IEC officials.
The ESG said in the statement that it recognizes that the initial delay to publish preliminary results was “due to the need to finalize key procedures in the interest of ensuring a transparent and credible outcome.”
But while transparency and credibility should not be sacrificed, the election commissions also have a duty to be communicative and responsive:
“The ESG strongly urges the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) as custodians of the votes of the Afghan people to provide accurate and timely information to the public about election results and the auditing process,” the statement said.
The group also called on presidential candidates to respect the Election Law and the Code of Conduct they signed and to refrain from any actions or statements that undermine the process and to “support the remaining phases of the process.”
This comes as candidates Abdullah Abdullah, Rahmatullah Nabil, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have all criticized the IEC’s vote recount as illegitimate because there is still controversy over the first vote count.
Responding to recent public statements by the presidential candidates, the ESG specifically called on all candidates to “cooperate with the recount and audit process” and follow the formal ECC complaints process to raise their concerns about the alleged irregularities.
And the ESG instructed the Afghan commissions to answer concerns raised by the candidates in a “clear and a timely manner”
Also on Monday, the UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, said: “Afghanistan’s electoral authorities face a range of complex and difficult challenges in managing the count and tabulation of recent Presidential elections.”
“UNAMA remains committed to providing technical advice to assist the electoral authorities in their work to ensure the results are fraud-free and credible, and the process transparent,” UNAMA said.
The statement said that it is important that the electoral authorities respect all tenets of the country’s electoral law, act with transparency in their operations, maintain full accountability for their work, and expedite the issuance of results at the earliest time.