Considering the various media reports speculating about the position of the United Nations on these two fundamental issues, let me be clear: Neither process should be harmed or held back by the other; both processes must move forward with the full force and commitment of all stakeholders. While there are clear links between these critical processes, as they both will substantially affect Afghanistan’s future, the United Nations will continue to do all it can in both areas.
As I told the United Nations Security Council less than two weeks ago, the presidential elections scheduled for 28 September will be a key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure. This vital political foundation needs to be laid to ensure that the vote will be credible and the outcome accepted.
All participants in the process – candidates, supporters, government officials, civil society organizations, national security forces, political leaders, political parties, media, the election management bodies and voters – have an important role and collective responsibility to ensure that the process is credible and transparent.
Afghanistan cannot afford a contentious and protracted post-election crisis that could result in a president with brittle democratic and domestic legitimacy, as this would harm the new president’s ability to bring the Afghan people together in a meaningful and representative peace process.
In addition to fully supporting the efforts of Afghanistan’s electoral management bodies with technical guidance through the 28 September presidential elections, the United Nations will continue to work to support all peace efforts, which are of utmost importance. Attaining peace will require the efforts of many, but with the international community’s support for Afghanistan’s full ownership of the process, I am cautiously optimistic that we are moving in the right direction.
Tadamichi Yamamoto is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).