Afghan election hailed amid reports of irregularities

Afghan election hailed amid reports of irregularities
# 07 April 2014 20:46 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The international communities and Afghans hailed the presidential and provincial councils elections as "successful" despite allegations of fraud and irregularities.

Last Saturday Afghan voters cast their ballots for a third time since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 to choose their next president and members of the provincial councils.

"Afghan voters have shown a remarkable, impressive determination to choose their leadership in freedom, by voting peacefully, in unexpectedly high numbers. Afghan voters showed their radical choice for the democratic constitution of Afghanistan and the universal rights enshrined in it," EU Election Assessment Team (EU EAT) Chief Observer Thijs BERMAN told reporters earlier on Monday.

Out of 12 million eligible Afghans, more than 7 million voters, 36 percent of them women, cast their ballots on the one-day general election.

"We don't know who has won. We know that the Taliban have lost, " BERMAN said.

One day after the polls, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Afghans on the "historic" elections, calling them " an important step forward in Afghanistan's first democratic transition of power."

"Afghans braved threats and intimidation to exercise their right to vote, and in doing so, they have sent a powerful message that the perpetrators of violence cannot win," Ban said.

On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China hopes Afghanistan's presidential election will be a new start for the country's unity and stability.

As Afghanistan's friendly neighbor, China respects Afghan people' s choice, Hong said in a statement on Saturday, noting that China noticed the election is generally smooth.

China hopes relevant sides in Afghanistan will properly handle differences through dialogue so as to realize broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation at an early date, said the spokesman.

Earlier on Monday, representative of the eight presidential hopefuls complained about a number of irregularities in the polls.

During a meeting with the country's electoral watchdog members, they said shortage of ballot papers in polling centers, stuffing of ballot boxes, and banning candidates' agents from monitoring the election sites were among some of the major election offenses.

The Electoral Compliant Commission (ECC) had registered more than 1,200 complaints since polling day.

The ECC Chairman Abdul Satar Saadat told the representatives that the ECC will take all allegations of fraud seriously.

"The aggregation of results is ongoing. The EU Election Assessment Team encourages the IEC to continue carrying out their duties and count the votes with the maximum of transparency. We therefore question the choice to publish the preliminary results only after at least 5 percent of the votes will have been counted in at least 20 provinces. This leads to several days of silence", EU EAT head Berman added.

"The EU EAT will remain until the very end of this electoral process and will continue assessing the compliance of these elections with Afghan legislation and with international standards, " Berman said.

Following the polls, the U.S. President Barack Obama also praised Afghan election.

"These elections are critical to securing Afghanistan's democratic future, as well as continued international support, and we look to the Afghan electoral bodies to carry out their duties in the coming weeks to adjudicate the results," Obama said.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had this to say about the election. "Canada congratulates the Afghan people for courageously taking to the polls, in high numbers, exercising their right to vote during the Presidential and Provincial Council elections. We welcome the unprecedented number of Afghan women who ensured that their voices were heard, and support their desire for a brighter and stable future."

Congratulating Afghans, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that "Pakistan would not only help and support Afghanistan in strengthening democracy, but also work in collaboration with the new leadership in Afghanistan for bringing peace and tranquillity in the region."

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