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Obama, Ban promise support to president-elect

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Sunday called to congratulate president-elect Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and CEO-designate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on reaching an agreement on a unity government, the White House said.
“The president spoke with Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah earlier today to congratulate them on concluding their agreement for a government of national unity and safeguarding the first democratic and peaceful transfer of leadership in Afghanistan’s history,” said a statement from the White House.
Obama thanked Ghani and Abdullah for their leadership and willingness to partner to advance Afghanistan’s national interests, the source said, adding the president reaffirmed the US strategic partnership with Afghanistan and commitment to continued support for the new administration.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the agreement on a national unity government and the Independent Election Commission’s announcement to declare Ghani the president-elect paved the way for a stable and more prosperous future for the country.
“The new government will face serious challenges, and I urge the president-elect, the chief executive, and all political actors in Afghanistan to quickly form the government of national unity,” Ban said.
He reiterated the support for Afghanistan expressed by the international community during the Security Council debate on September 18. The United Nations remained committed to working closely with the new government, he affirmed.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council also welcomed the agreement and emphasized the importance of all parties in Afghanistan working within the framework of the government of unity in order to achieve a unified, peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Afghanistan.
Separately, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the peaceful agreement would bring additional stability and prosperity to Afghanistan by ensuring that all Afghan citizens would be represented by the new government, and by the historic transfer of power from one president to the next.
“We congratulate the Afghan people for their continued commitment to the democratic process as they patiently awaited this announcement. Canada recognizes that a vast majority of Afghans have chosen a path toward economic development free of corruption, and are determined to act in Afghanistan’s national interests,” he said.
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Afghanistan will now transition from one elected leader to another.
“The Afghan people can be proud of the role they played. The election, especially the tabulation, has been rough, but there is cause for hope, if things change. After nearly 13 years under the failed policies of the Karzai administration, Afghanistan desperately needs a fresh start with a new leader and innovative ideas,” he said.
“It is now time for all parties to set aside their differences, abide by their commitments to form a national-unity government, and embrace a set of common goals to achieve a stable Afghanistan. Afghanistan otherwise will be a failed state, with disastrous consequences for Afghans, and greater dangers to U.S. national security,” he said.
“President-elect Ghani must confront many challenges, including rampant corruption, revenue shortfalls, and a very challenging security situation. I look forward to working with him and Abdullah Abdullah to ensure that Afghanistan remains a key security partner of the United States,” Royce said.
The European Union Election Assessment Team, EU EAT, also welcomed the formation of national unity government but stressed the need for reforms in the election commissions.
A statement from the EU EAT said that the EU EAT welcomed the political agreement signed today to form a national unity government, and took note of the publication of the final outcome of the Afghan Presidential election by the IEC following the audit of the run-off votes conducted under the supervision of the United Nations.
EU EAT Chief Observer Thijs Berman was quoted as saying, “A political agreement has been reached on a future government and on a division of roles between the two candidates, after an unsatisfactory audit process. I welcome and deeply value the political will to secure stability in the country.”
He went on to say, “However, the high proportion of fraud brought to light shows an unacceptable lack of respect towards so many Afghans, women and men, who freely went to cast their vote, often at great personal risk. Moreover, Afghan voters are entitled to be guaranteed that, in future elections, full transparency will be applied on the exact way their votes have been administered.”
Berman continued, “The audit procedures, negotiated with both sides and therefore inevitably complex, have been at times inconsistently and hastily applied under high political tension. This has contributed to an imperfect effort to separate fraudulent votes from clean votes. The EU EAT concludes that, even after this full audit, questions remain on the electoral process and on the final outcome, in particular as the audit failed to bring full clarity on final results. The political agreement reached should now be the start of a new era.”
The EU EAT assessed the entire audit process with up to 410 observers. This exceptionally high number of electoral experts allowed the EU EAT to be present at the audit of nearly half of the total number of ballot boxes from all 34 provinces. The assessment by the EU EAT, which has been detailed and accurate due to the high number (47,4%) of ballot boxes observed by the Team, shows clear evidence of large-scale fraud, mainly ballot stuffing.
It has to be underlined that a relatively small numbers of polling station results were subject to full invalidations, while almost half of the polling station audits led to recounts and partial invalidations. All provinces have been affected by fraud, in varying degrees.
The EU EAT welcomes the announcement, in the overall political agreement, that the Afghan authorities will initiate the elaboration of profound electoral reforms in the perspective of the future elections of 2015.
“Effective anti-fraud measures, neglected for years, will have to be enforced, including the prosecution of those involved in electoral violations during the 2014 presidential elections. We are very much looking forward to contribute to this effort with the recommendations in the Final Report of the EU Election Assessment Team, to be published soon. This report will contain concrete suggestions for reforms with the objective to strengthen the credibility of elections in the country and to restore the necessary confidence of the Afghan voters in their young democracy,” Berman concluded. (Pajhwok)

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