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Domestic observers play crucial role in deterring voter fraud: UN

KABUL: As Afghans prepare for parliamentary elections and amid widespread allegations of foul play in elections, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has emphasized importance of domestic observers, as well as candidates’ agents and political party monitors in guarding the upcoming vote against fraud and rigging.

Speaking at a meeting with domestic observers held in Kabul on Monday, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, noted the critical role that each observer can perform in the upcoming election in deterring and preventing fraud.

“Extensive and informed coverage by Afghan non-partisan observers and candidates’ agents at the more than 5,000 polling centres is crucial,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA. “Their presence represents one of the most effective instruments to detect and deter fraud.”

More than 250,000 domestic observers, candidates’ agents and political party monitors have sought accreditation to scrutinize the elections on 20 October. UNAMA encourages all eligible actors to actively engage in observing the elections and welcomes the high numbers of domestic observers that will be active on election day –among them several thousand who are women– along with party monitors and candidates’ agents. All agents and observers should be well trained on the polling and counting procedures and adhere to the law and Code of Conduct while present at the polling stations.

“Afghan observers are the guardians of the electoral process,” said Yamamoto, “while candidates bear the primary responsibility for preventing fraud by instructing their supporters not to commit fraud in their names.”

The lead role performed by domestic observers underscores that this is an Afghan-owned elections process, with Afghans acting as the final arbiter of the result. There are no international observers deployed in polling centers in Afghanistan’s 2018 parliamentary elections.

The United Nations is mandated to support Afghan authorities in technical issues around the electoral process. The UN in Afghanistan has no monitoring or observation mandate in the 20 October parliamentary election.

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