U.S. Ambassador to Kabul, John R. Bass on Wednesday in a statement said, “We are pleased the election budget has finally been finalized. That enables the United States to provide up to $29 million to support operations.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday confirmed that a budget of $149 million – of which nearly 60 percent will be provided by the Afghan government–has been approved for the upcoming presidential election.
According to IEC, the government of Afghanistan would contribute $90 million to the election budget, adding the international community would donate further $59 million to the democratic practice.
“Conduct of the elections will also be funding independently Afghan domestic observers’ efforts so people have confidence in the way the election is conducted and in the results. Although the budget is an important step, there are many more steps the commission and the relevant ministries need to take to ensure elections occur when scheduled,” US ambassador Bass added.
We need to see the additional staff hired and trained by the commission. We need to see the voters lists published,” Bass said, adding, “we all need to see finalization of procurement and training on the biometric verification devices. All of that will be essential to conduct the election.”
“We have strong expectations as do all Afghans, I think, to see all of the candidates respecting Afghan law that prohibits government officials or people with access to government officials from using government resources to benefit their campaign, Bass said.
Bass furthered; “We expect all the candidates, whether they are currently in government positions or not, to refrain from trying to use government resources, whether that’s money, whether that’s the power to appoint people, whether that’s simply going about their business in ways that is intended to benefit their campaign.”
“We expect to see everyone respect Afghan law, and we expect that because the Afghan people expect that. And as a last point, I’d note that it’s quite important that the electoral commission be communicating with the public about its activities,” he added.
The Afghan public understand the preparations that are underway and that progress is being made to prepare for these important elections, the statement concluded.
Moreover, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah warned against the recurrence of 2014 poll’s scenario in the upcoming presidential election, saying if that happened it will lead to an irreversible catastrophe.
Speaking at a conference tilted “Women’s Participation in Election,” he said that the past elections’ challenges and experiences should be a lesson for moving forward toward a better future.
He continued that conducting election was a turning-point for Afghans’ fate, therefore it must be a free and fair election. “As we are saying that each person has the right to vote one time, then it must be translated into practice.”