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European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan 2005

Map by ethnicity of AfghanistanEU ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION RELEASES FINAL REPORT ON RECENT AFGHAN POLLS

Emma Bonino, Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) and Member of the European Parliament, today presented the final report on the 18 September 2005 Afghan Parliamentary and Provincial Elections.

Speaking at the press conference in Kabul, Ms Bonino said: “Overall, given their complexity and operational challenges, the elections are an accomplishment, although there were notable shortcomings to be addressed for the future. Pre-election preparations were generally good and voting on election day was largely peaceful. However, post-election day developments revealed significant deficiencies that should be honestly analysed and effectively addressed.”

The report contains detailed recommendations to help improve the conduct of future elections. It recommends that the choice of voting system should be reviewed, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) should be made permanent, and the Electoral Complaints Commission should be strengthened. It also recommends that voter lists should be introduced at the polling station level, candidates should be provided with better access to the mass media, civil society should be further supported in voter education activities and efforts should be made to improve the participation of women in the electoral process.

The EU EOM also examined longer-term democracy-building as an integral part of Afghanistan’s future development. “Democracy is about more than just elections, important as they are. Democracy is also about society and civic culture,” commented Ms Bonino. In Afghanistan, according to the EU EOM, a sustainable transition to democracy will require particular attention in a number of areas, including strengthening civil society; reinforcing the role of the media; continuing improvement of the situation of women, especially in public life; and enhancing national unity and reconciliation, and ending a culture of impunity.

Background
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to the 2005 Parliamentary and Provincial Elections in Afghanistan, headed by Ms Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament, was deployed in early July following an invitation issued by the Government of Afghanistan and the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB).

The Mission remained in the country until the end of October in order to observe counting, tabulation and the complaints adjudication process. During this period, the EU EOM observed the electoral process in 29 of the 34 Provinces of Afghanistan. On Election Day itself, the mission was able to draw on the findings of a total of 159 observers in over 1,100 polling stations, making it the largest, most comprehensive international observation mission at these elections. The EU EOM released a Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions on 19 September 2005.