AT News Report
KABUL: In the context of the preparation for the 28 September ballot, Ambassadors of EU, Germany, Japan, UK, US and UNAMA, on behalf of the Election Support Group (ESG), met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to discuss the role of the two leaders in building public trust and confidence in the presidential election process.
“As candidates in positions of authority, both leaders have a special responsibility to clearly distinguish between their role as Government officials and as presidential candidates,” ESG said in statement sent to Afghanistan Times.
Both leaders should not only conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the Election law and Code of Conduct they signed, but to also set an example for other candidates. In this respect, the ESG also encouraged NUG officials who have a role in the election campaigns of both leaders to publicly and formally step aside from their positions for the duration of the election campaign, the statement added.
The Ambassadors welcomed the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to finance a significant portion of the election budget, which reflects its commitment to Afghan ownership and sustainability of the electoral process.
They also welcomed the stated commitment of both leaders to a credible election and appreciated the two presidential decrees issued in February regarding non-interference of Government officials and security forces.
According to the statement, the Ambassadors noted the public concerns about maintaining a level playing field amongst all candidates and stakeholders as well as the fundamental fairness requirement to maintain the independence of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).
The ESG takes allegations of abuse of authority seriously and believes such accusations – whether real or perceived – warrant attention by the NUG leaders in order to reassure all candidates, the people of Afghanistan and its international partners, that the principles of fair competition, will be respected.
In this regard, the Ambassadors called on the President and the Chief Executive to publicly explain concrete measures being taken to ensure that Government officials (at all levels) and state resources are not used to advantage or disadvantage any particular candidate; and to guarantee that the IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) will be given complete autonomy/independence in the management of the electoral process, the statement added.