With just over a week to go for Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Thursday that it has noted, that despite significant security challenges, progress has been made by the country's security forces to create conditions for the majority of citizens to exercise their right to vote.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said in the statement: "Afghanistan’s security forces are fully responsible for providing security for the elections process."
“Adequate security is required to give the opportunity to as many eligible voters as possible to exercise their constitutional rights,” he said.
Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA, emphasized that Afghans should not be obstructed, intimidated or denied their right to choose their representatives and shape their country's future.
“Any violence or intimidation directed at voters, candidates or electoral officials is totally unacceptable, and I unequivocally condemn it,” he said noting that recent attacks had been carried out across the country against candidates, their teams and potential voters.
“The Ministry of Interior has for several months led the coordination of a national security planning process for the elections. It has done so with the Ministry of Defence and the National Directorate of Security with the support of Resolute Support and in consultation with the Independent Election Commission (IEC). UNAMA welcomes the allocation of additional resources for female security personnel to enhance women’s participation,” the statement read.
The joint security planning directive on elections was signed in 2017 by the three main national security organs, as well as the IEC and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. This commitment was followed by extensive security assessments of the polling centres by Afghan security agencies, UNAMA stated.
The 20 October elections are the first in the modern era that will be fully handled by Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
While fulfilling their critical role in providing security to the process, UNAMA notes that the Afghan security forces also have a responsibility to remain politically impartial in discharging their duties.
Late last month, Resolute Support (RS) officials said they will support the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in maintaining security during the upcoming parliamentary elections.
RS officials made the remarks at an elections security meeting at the Presidential Palace that was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, RS officials, security officials from the interior and defense ministries and officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Andrew Poppas, a senior NATO official in Kabul, said at the time that RS will provide comprehensive support to the ANDSF to implement the election security plan, as quoted by the Presidential Palace in a statement.
“There are many enemies who will try to silence the voice of the people, but the fact that over nine million people have registered to vote should inspire us all. And as we have seen, where the Afghan people and Afghan leadership have committed themselves, they have all succeeded. So there is no doubt that the results in elections will proceed safely and securely… the RS support is to make sure that we are there to provide the resources and the back stop for the Afghan security forces to ensure that they go forward,” said Poppas.
The Afghan security departments have also pledged to do everything possible to safeguard the lives of voters on election day – October 20.