The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today welcomed the publication of preliminary results of last month`s parliamentary elections, but cautioned that the electoral process is not over, with considerable fraud having been identified.
More than 4 million voters took part in the 18 September elections for the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Afghanistan`s parliament, which were organized by the country`s Independent Election Commission (IEC). At least 2,500 candidates " including nearly 400 women " vied for the parliament`s 249 seats covering all 34 Afghan provinces, plus the Kuchi constituency.
Staffan de Mistura, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon`s Special Representative, recognized the IEC`s hard work to release the election results.
He also commended the IEC for its significant improvements in managing the post-polling day process, noting that the body has detected irregularities and is committed to ensuring the process is transparent.
Last year`s presidential elections, eventually won by incumbent President Hamid Karzai, were marred by widespread fraud.
The number of votes invalidated and identified by the IEC point to considerable fraud and electoral irregularities on election day, " Mr. de Mistura said in a statement.
He emphasized that the electoral process is not over and the results are not yet final, and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) must now wrap up its adjudication of complains and review candidates submitted by the IEC for alleged electoral violations.
We are now looking attentively at this next stage of the process which should also ensure that those who are proven to have committed fraudulent acts are held accountable, " Mr. de Mistura said.
The United Nations hopes that this critical part of the electoral operation is also carried out with diligence and in a timely manner. The United Nations will continue to provide technical and operational support to both electoral institutions. "