UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Thursday issued a statement giving due credit to the ramped up security provision by the authorities in Afghanistan with just over a week remaining for the elections.
“Afghanistan’s security forces are fully responsible for providing security for the elections process. Adequate security is required to give the opportunity to as many eligible voters as possible to exercise their constitutional rights,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said in the statement.
Mr Yamamoto has expressed that it is imperative for the people’s electoral rights to not be disrupted or intimidated, “Any violence or intimidation directed at voters, candidates or electoral officials is totally unacceptable, and I unequivocally condemn it,”. He said this in the light of some recent violent attacks that have been carried out in the midst of the election campaigns as well as voter registration process.
The UNAMA statement also read that “The Ministry of Interior has for several months led the coordination of a national security planning process for the elections. It has done so with the Ministry of Defence and the National Directorate of Security with the support of Resolute Support and in consultation with the Independent Election Commission (IEC). UNAMA welcomes the allocation of additional resources for female security personnel to enhance women’s participation.”
For the first time in the modern period, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are going to be handling the elections that are due to take place on 20th October.
In 2017, a joint security planning directive on elections was signed by the three main national security organs, and the IEC and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. The enforcement was followed up by security assessments of the polling centres by Afghan security agencies, as per UNAMA.
The UNAMA statement also pointed out that the Afghan security forces have to not only provide ample security and safety during the elections but also remain absolutely impartial in terms of political views and support. Neutrality is the defining feature of the forces as per UNAMA.
In late September, seeing the current state of instability in place, the Resolute Support announced that they are going to aid and support the ANDSF in maintaining security for the upcoming elections. Andrew Poppas, a senior NATO official in Kabul in a meeting at the presidential palace at the time noted that “There are many enemies who will try to silence the voice of the people, but the fact that over nine million people have registered to vote should inspire us all. And as we have seen, where the Afghan people and Afghan leadership have committed themselves, they have all succeeded. So there is no doubt that the results in elections will proceed safely and securely… the RS support is to make sure that we are there to provide the resources and the backstop for the Afghan security forces to ensure that they go forward.”
With Khabarnama’s exclusive “Elections 2018” coverage, it is evident that the security threat poses a key challenge when it comes to voter registration as well as the propensity of people to vote. Many provinces had an acute lack of proper security provision because of which its residents, despite being keen to cast their vote, were caught in a frenzy of fear to step out and exercise what constitutes a basic democratic and fundamental right to vote.
It has not been easy for the candidates either. Since the campaigns began on 29th September, two candidates have been targeted in a suicide blast, one of whom in Lashkar Gah, Helmand lost his life.
As has been registered, there are 2,565 candidates competing for seats in the 249-member chamber, including 417 female candidates. According to the Independent Election Commission, at least 5 people have been targeted so far and subsequently killed.