The European Union Election Assessment Team (EU EAT) has welcomed the Afghan political agreement on national unity government but has regretted that no precise results figures were published by the election commission.
EU EAT Chief Observer Thijs Berman states: “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. 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”.
Following the non-acceptance of the preliminary results of the second round by one candidate, a political agreement was reached on July 12, 2014 in favor of an audit of all 8.1 million votes previously validated by the IEC. This agreement offered only general guidelines on how to approach this complex audit process, and more detailed procedures had to be elaborated while the audit was being conducted.
“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,” underlines EU Chief Observer Thijs Berman.
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”, concludes Thijs Berman, EU EAT Chief Observer.