Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

International Engagement

A UN Postscript to the Provincial Council Elections

Thomas Ruttig 3 min

The following is everything the UN Secretary General and his Kabul rep Kai Eide have to say about the highly flawed provincial council elections.

‘With respect to the provincial council elections, as at 12 December, the Electoral Complaints Commission had formally delivered all 34 provincial council decisions to the Independent Electoral Commission, thus allowing the Independent Electoral Commission to certify the results. The Independent Electoral Commission is also in a position to begin conducting elections of the provincial council members to the Meshrano Jirga. In total, 3,339 candidates ran for a total of 420 provincial council seats. Overall, turnout was assessed by the Independent Electoral Commission to be higher for the provincial council vote than for the presidential vote. The Independent Electoral Commission has conducted audits and recounts of the preliminary results for the Nangarhar, Kandahar, Ghazni and Paktika provinces. Following the release of the preliminary results, provincial council candidates across the country complained of discrepancies in results, and, in certain cases, bias in favour of a particular tribe or ethnicity. Dissatisfaction and resentment were also expressed with respect to delays in the issuance of the final results.’

The ECC has delivered all decisions and the IEC has certified the results. Interesting! We also get some statistics and information that recounts were done. But what’s the outcome? The IEC now can start conducting the election of the Senators. Fine, everything’s in butter, then. There were complaints by PC candidates. About what? Were they justified or not? Well, the report hints (if you look closely) at the fact that there were suspicious discrepancies between the (registered) turnouts for the presidential and PC elections in various provinces.

Is this all we get on this issue?

Look up the AAN blogs on this issue further down in our list and you will see that those discrepancies were not just unimportant blemishes. That the results were massively tampered with. That people went on and off the list of elected PC members without any explanation. And that the PC elections were at least as massively rigged as the presidential one.

No word in this UN report also that the ECC and the IEC are still involved in a sharp controversy about the outcome in many provinces, that Afghan ECC members did not take part in commissions sessions, consider their decisions void and accuse its foreign members publicly (and under contradicted by the UN in this report) of interfering with the elections outcome – which turns reality upside down. But foreigner-bashing has become a popular sport in Afghanistan, too.

With the Provincial Councils we talk about elected bodies that get closer to the Afghan people’s realities than any other that exists. (There are still no elected district councils. The report also does not mention that the Karzai government wants to hold those elections in May and that this is even more ridiculous if you look at the existing security and technical reasons Eide is citing with regard to the simultaneous parliamentary vote.) Properly funded and clearly empowered by law – which still is not the case – they could turn in major bodies through which the population could assert some control over the political and reconstruction processes in their country. This is a crucial issue.

But the whole paragraph reads as if the UN were a rather uninterested monitor of those elections and did not have much to do with it. What might be true. But that’s a scandal.

Kai Eide, meanwhile, has nothing better to do than saying in his farewell statement before the UN Security Council that: ‘There was also a perception of international interference, which undoubtedly also occurred[my emphasis] – before and after election day. Both must be eliminated in future election processes.’

I am not sure what Mr Eide is talking about here. I do not hope that he is referring to the international members of the ECC. (The interference that occurred were US statements that could have been – at least – misunderstood as preferring this or that candidate.) But nevertheless, Eide’s statement will be read by many Afghans as a confirmation of the IEC accusations against the ECC. President Karzai will now ‘afghanise’ (another of thes latest buzz words which sound so nice and do not mean much) the ECC and make sure that no further external nose poking, recounting and so on will happen during the parliamentary elections.

Under these circumstances it needs to be asked what Ban Ki Moon’s statement from 5 January is worth that the UN will not support any more Afghan elections prior to reforms of the electoral set-up.

(Read the full report dated 28 December 2009 here, the para quoted is para 10 in the report.)


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