News - Afghanistan
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has welcomed the establishment by the National Unity Government of the Electoral System Reform Commission, under the chairmanship of Sultan Shah Akefi.
"This is an important step," said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan. "We look forward to a credible, inclusive and transparent electoral reform process. UNAMA encourages the Afghan authorities to make the necessary decisions on the electoral calendar for the next parliamentary and other polls."
In a statement UNAMA said it also acknowledges the nomination of Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, to the Commission. The United Nations will not be a voting-member of the Commission. Its role will be to provide advice and technical expertise based on international best practices, while respecting the sovereign right of Afghanistan to make the final decisions on electoral reforms.
Yamamoto is the United Nations' focal point for electoral support to Afghanistan and will coordinate international assistance to the Electoral System Reform Commission.
"Electoral reforms are essential to restoring the faith of the Afghan people in the democratic process and will lead to greater political stability," said Yamamoto.
Last week, deputy presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi announced that the NUG has finalized the appointment of leaders for the Electoral Reform Commission, adding that now President Ashraf Ghani will focus on setting the timeline for parliamentary elections.
Following the expiration of Parliament's constitutionally allotted term, Ghani had pledged to establish a timeframe for parliamentary elections within one month. But with just three days left until the end of the deadline, still no date for the elections has been announced.
Earlier this year, disputes between Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah over the composition of the electoral reform commission caused a major rift within the NUG as well as backlash about its ability to work cohesively to address the country's most pressing issues, such as electoral reform. In the wake of last year's tumultuous presidential election, Abdullah drew a redline on the subject of electoral reform, making it a central commitment of the national unity government and the cause he would champion.
Abdullah's office on Thursday released a press statement confirming that he and Ghani had come to an agreement on the formation of the electoral reform commission. The statement said the commission would include representatives from the two camps of the national unity government, civil society groups, election monitoring institutions and the United Nations.
According to the release, the commission's members include Saleh Mohammad Registani, Sabrina Saqib, Kawoon Kakar, Mohammad Ali Amiri, Abdul Qadir Karyab, Mohammad Bashir Farooq, Assadullah Saadati, Faizullah Zaki, Shah Mahmoud Miakhail, Dr. Alima, Abdul Majid Ghanizada and UN representative Tadamichi Yamamoto.