While briefing members of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto said the UN commends the people of Afghanistan who defied the threats of the Taliban to exercise their fundamental rights to vote in the October 20 parliamentary elections.
“We commend the courage and strong will of the people of Afghanistan to have defied the threat of the Taliban to exercise their fundamental rights to vote,” Yamamoto told the UNSC members in New York on Monday.
On the presidential elections he said: “The people of Afghanistan will also make a critical political choice next year for their president. These elections are essential steps as they walk on the path to firmly establishing a representative democracy.
“When we look at the elections this year, it is necessary to realize that the preparations and implementation, as well as the management of security were primarily conducted by the Afghan people with only assistance and advice from international experts. Compared to the elections in 2005 when 550 international experts were responsible for the implementation of the elections, this year only around 60 international experts participated in the advisory capacity. Also, this year the Government of Afghanistan bore more costs than in the past. The international contribution decreased from approximately US$140 million in 2014 to $60 million this year,” he said.
On the security threats and civilian casualties he said: “In the area of security, the threats were real: there were more than 108 verified incidents causing 400 civilian casualties, the largest number of casualties on a single election day since systematic records were kept in 2009. At the same time, it must be recognized that the total number of civilian casualties throughout the electoral period this year was on a par with those in 2014. We need to acknowledge the efforts of the national security forces who managed the security primarily by themselves this year without the significant international support which they had in 2014.”
UNAMA’s human rights service has reported that there were over 8,000 civilian casualties between January 1 and September 30 this year. This is the same level as last year. Child casualties remain high with 2,136 recorded in the same period. Efforts must be made by all concerned to reduce the casualties.
"Almost 60 percent was caused by suicide attacks and ground engagements. The increase of direct targeting of civilians by anti-government elements this year is a concern for us. We also note the significant increase in civilian casualties from aerial operations. UNAMA also recorded 1,513 civilian casualties from suicide and other IED attacks claimed by Daesh this year. This is a more than three-fold increase compared to the same period last year. Given the way in which Daesh expanded its influence in other parts of the world, we remain concerned about the threats from Daesh.
“As part of our commitment to helping the Afghan institutions deliver a credible presidential election, the United Nations, in response to the request by the president and the ECC, will recommend two international experts to be appointed as non-voting members in the ECC. We will also reassess the roles of international experts in the IEC and determine if more are necessary,” he added.
He said that the possibility of a negotiated end to the conflict has never been more real in the past 17 years than it is now.
The possibility of a negotiated end to the conflict has never been more real in the past 17 years than it is now. On the Afghan side, a peace plan was presented by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah at the Geneva Ministerial Conference. A team to negotiate directly with the Taliban was appointed. A senior advisory board representing a broader set of Afghan politicians to support the peace efforts was also announced.