With less than two weeks to Election Day, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday issued a statement reiterating the fact that taking part in elections is the right of every citizen – a right enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and UNAMA head said: “Afghan men and women have a basic human right to freely choose their government and leaders.”
He said: “It is critical that all actors in Afghan society do everything within their power to safeguard this fundamental right so that citizens can cast their vote without obstruction, threat or intimidation.”
Afghanistan is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on 20 October.
The country’s Constitution states that citizens have a fundamental right to “elect and be elected” and also states that elections should be conducted through “free, general, secret and direct balloting.”
UNAMA stated that Afghanistan voted in favor of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all people have the right to take part in their government, directly or through freely chosen representatives, and that they have the right of equal access to public service in their country.
UNAMA’s statement comes a day after institutions overseeing the election process raised concerns over the number of polling stations they say will remain closed on Election Day.
One watchdog institution in northern Balkh province said around 40 polling centers won’t open in the province on election day. The watchdog institutions said during the voter registration process only 12 centers were open in Balkh.
IEC provincial chiefs in the north also said 66 polling centers in Sar-e-Pul, 76 centers in Jawzjan and 29 centers in Faryab will remain closed due to security threats.
But security officials in Balkh said they are ready to maintain security of elections in the north and north-eastern parts of the country.
“All Afghan security forces have made complete preparations for maintaining security during the elections. We assure security at (polling stations) in all Balkh districts and in general we have our security plans for the north and north-east of the country,” Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, commander of 209 Shaheen Military Corps in Balkh said.
Watchdog institutions in Paktia province meanwhile added a number of polling centers will remain closed in their province.
Initially, the IEC said there would be 7,350 polling centers nationwide, but due to security threats this number has dropped by more than 2,000.