Press Briefing: 6 June 2018

Press Briefing
at 7:30 PM at the Media Results Centre, Amani High School

Almeida e Silva, Spokesman for the Special Representative of the Secretary General

  • 843,000 Cast Their Votes in Iran and Pakistan

An estimated 843,000 Afghans living in Pakistan and Iran voted yesterday. Of these 583,000 turned out to vote in Pakistan. That represents approximately 79% of those who had registered as voters. In Iranian estimated 260,000 Afghans voted. All ballot boxes are being collected and they will be transported to Kabul where the ballots will be counted in the Kabul Ballot Counting Centre.

Asylum know the registration and voting in Pakistan and the voting in Iran was organized by the International Organization for Migration on behalf of the Joint Electoral Management Body and UNAMA.

  • Ballot Boxes Moving to Counting Centers

I would like to confirm that ballot boxes are being transported tithe eight ballot counting centers in the eight regions of Afghanistan. They are being transported by air and road using trucks, helicopters, airplanes and even the now famous donkeys and horses. All of this movement is organized by the Electoral Secretariat with the support and protection of the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army, ISAF, NATO and the Coalition Forces.

Observers and candidate and political party agents are observing the process, tracking the boxes, checking that the boxes are properly sealed.

I understand that some of you have been to the ballot counting centering Kabul, your colleagues in the regions are visiting the other ballot counting centers and TV Afghanistan has been showing scenes of the eight ballot counting centers to the entire country as part of its Witness project.

Before ballots are counted there are two steps in this process. They are called Check-in and Reconciliation. During the Check-in the ballot boxes and other materials such as for example the Polling Centre General Return, which is a list that includes the number of voters, the number of unused ballots and the number of spoiled ballots are checked. The review of the list with the number of voters will enable the Secretariat to confirm the number of voters who actually turned out on voting day.

During the Reconciliation Phase the ballot boxes are opened, the ballot papers are unfolded, stacked face down and then counted to confirm the number of ballot papers matches the number of voters as indicated in the Polling Centre General List that I just mentioned. This Isa time-consuming process and only after that can ballot counting begin. This is why I took the time to explain the process in order for you to understand why the final result will take two to three weeks.

Thesis all I have for you this evening. I will now take your questions. After the Q & A we will have the briefing on security by the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior.

Questions and Answers

Question: We expected a statement from the JEMB to be read at this press briefing and that’s why the press briefing was postponed to 7 o’clock. Why was that cancelled?

Spokesman: Because it’s not ready. The JEMB has been meeting and they are working on the mechanisms related to the investigation they referred to in their statement yesterday. And as you can well imagine that requires consultation, because they want to have it comprehensive and transparent in order to have the credibility that is necessary. So that is what they are doing.

Question:(inaudible) made a statement that an independent commission will be set up to review the complaint from the 15 candidates. Canyon confirm this?

Spokesman: I don’t think I am in a position to talk much about that because it is exactly what the Electoral Authority is discussing. But I believe that the intention is to have a mechanism that expands on what is already put in place by the JEMB in order to review all the complaints and have the transparency and the credibility that is required; some element of independence as you mentioned, I’m sure is being looked into. But also acknowledging that there is the Electoral Law in this country that determines and mandates the Joint Electoral Management Body and gives the Body the responsibility to ensure the credibility of the electoral process and of course that authority and that mandate remains with the electoral authority.

Question:You explained there are two phases to the counting process. When can we expect the actual counting of the votes to begin?

Spokesman: I think it would be fair to imagine something like three or four days. Not before that. I think we have to be a little bit patient. After all Afghanistan has waited for so many years to haven election. Wait just a few more days to start seeing the beginning of the counting results.

Question: The result of the election is not yet known. If one of the 14 candidates will boycott the election, what would be your position?

Spokesman: I don’t think anyone boycotted because everyone voted. And voting is not compulsory. Are you talking about the voters? They came in large numbers. The result is representative of the will of the nation through the vote of so many million Afghans who voted on Saturday.

Question: Is the JEMB also in dialogue with the candidates who have protested to certain irregularities. And also is the JEMB looking at voting as a result of bad weather.

Spokesman: I don’t speak for the JEMB, but I can tell you that from the United Nations side, yes, the Special Representative has been in contact, as he always is with all parties that play an important role in any process of the Afghan transition. On your second question it is my understanding that indeed the JEMB is looking in detail at the voting patterns of yesterday including the question of weather conditions and determining what access was available to all those who wanted to vote.

Question: Tomorrow German Chancellor Schroeder will be meeting with. Karzai, do you think that might be perceived as preferring one candidate?

Spokesman: I don’t know what that means, all I can tell yogis, if it is what you are saying it is a little late for that purpose, because elections have already happened.

Question: Reports from Jalalabad that the ballot box has arrived and counting has begun, your opinion on this, has this started?

Spokesman: May I ask Julian Type, member of the electoral secretariat, key electoral expert so that he may answer that question better than I could.

Julian Type: I would expect that what is happening in Jalalabad is exactly one of the phases that Manuel [de Almeida e Silva, Spokesman for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General]
described earlier, that is the reconciliation of the ballots within the ballot box. Clearly they have checked in quite a quantity of their materials now and have moved to the second phase of the count, which is reconciliation. At this stage the seals on the ballot boxes are checked to the Polling Centre General Return, the ballot papers are unfolded and they are placed upside down and then counted. They are placed upside down, because at this stage of the process no one is looking at the voters’ preferences, simply recording that the numbers of ballot papers in the ballot boxes are correct according to the polling center General Return. I would expect that is the process of which you have reports in Jalalabad.

Question: You are always speaking of a commission which will deal with the complaints of the candidates. Is it acceptable to the candidates or not? And second question is, you committed so many mistakes during the electoral process, what guarantee is that the same kind of mistakes are not repeated by members of this commission?

Spokesman: Of course I cannot give any guarantees on that, other than the fact, that is why it is taking some time to make sure that it’s a mechanism that has the support of all those who need to support it, including the candidates, also the choice of the individuals that come with the expertise required, with the experience necessary in order to command the respect and credibility that the investigation will require.

Question: Right now there is a mechanism that is provided by the election law of the country, why didn’t the start of the investigation begin right away?

Spokesman: Though there is a mechanism in place which is clearly spelled out in the regulations of the JEMB, of course there was this big issue yesterday, and it is necessary that the JEMB being responsive to it, and acknowledging the importance of the candidates who along with the voters are the main players in an electoral process, that their concerns are addressed in the best possible way, so they are reviewing what is in place and what further can be done in order to address all the concerns of the candidates, but above all, tube a process that is transparent and credible. You see it is the first time that Afghans are voting for a president in an election of this dimension. All of us, everyone has a great responsibility to ensure that this first experience remains something that Afghans, and not only Afghans, can be proud of. That they will trust the results, certainly improve it and use it as a good reference for future elections.

Question: Regarding this commission, do you think the candidates or their representatives will be part of the commission?

Spokesman: I really do not have the competence to answer that question at this point, this and other aspects are still under discussion by the JEMB.

Question: When are we going to get the figures of the voter turnout?

Spokesman: I do not know if you were here, but earlier in the briefing mentioned the process that happens once the ballots arrive at the ballot counting center. As part of the check-in, the ballot counting official will be looking at the Polling Centre General Return which includes a list with a number of voters in the polling station. At that time, we will be able to collect the data in order to have an idea about turnout

Hankou very much. May I now invite General Animi to initiate the briefing on security?

Briefing by General Animi, Spokesman for the Ministry offence

In the name of God good evening everybody.

The last 24 hours in comparison with the previous one was very peaceful. On October 9, there were 37 cases of attacks by the Taliban on different targets including 18 cases or rocket attacks. There were no casualties. The Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army neutralized nineteen cases of explosives.

As a result of the assessments that the security forces have had, in general the attacks by the Taliban have been weak, sparse and have not been able to have any great impact on the electoral process. In some cases there have been a slight effect on the polling process, but in general the attacks have not had any great impact on the process.

On the whole, 100,000 security forces were involved including forces from the Afghan police, the ANA, from the Coalition and from ISAF.

Overall, four people lost their lives including three police officers and one ANA soldier.

Band large we are satisfied with the security situation.

Last night one of the key Taliban figures, named Dr. Abdul Aziz, was arrested at 1am. According to the information we have he was one of the leaders of the Taliban. He had been tasked to devise suicidal attacks in Kandahar and the surrounding areas.

There was an attack by the Taliban on the Coalition Forces and as result Coalition Forces soldier was injured.

Hankou very much, I am ready to take your questions.

Question: Was the injured solider American and where in Uruapan province was he injured?

Ministry of Defense Spokesman: According to the reports that weave, as of 6:30pm, there was an attack by the Taliban on the Coalition Forces as a result of which a soldier was injured.

Briefing by Lutfullah Marshal, Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior

The Afghan National Police (ANP) are still on alert as they were last week. Right now the ANP is responsible for providing protection and security for the delivery of the ballot boxes from villages, districts to centers and then to the regions. And also provision of security and protection to the counting centers and eight regions of Afghanistan and also in Kabul.

Yesterday team of police forces escorting the transfer of ballot boxes from village in Uruapan province, called Chore to the capital town, Tirin kit, was ambushed by the Taliban. As a result, three police officers were killed and two others were injured. The ballot boxes were safely delivered to the Tiring kit town of Uruapan province and there were no damages to any other things.

Right now, in the last 12 hours, we do not have any significant reports or creation of problems by the Taliban. Their attempts were not coordinated and were ineffective.

Overall we are very pleased with the security situation. There have been no significant attacks and no significant events in the last 12 hours.

Are there any questions?

Question :( inaudible) Confusion on the number of people killed.

Ministry of Interior Spokesman: I’m talking about three people, three police officers. They were killed yesterday evening while they were delivering ballot boxes from Chore village to Tiring kit, the capital town of Uruapan. There were these three and two others were injured.

Question: Why do you think so few attacks took place and there was so much worry before?

Ministry of Interior Spokesman: As I said, because of the lack of coordination, ineffectiveness and the aggressive patrolling and the preparations of the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army, the Coalition, and all Allied Forces that were involved in the security of Afghanistan and the security of the election, because of these preparations and the lack of coordination from the Taliban, they were not effective and they were not coordinated.

[In reference to the first question the spokesman added] General Azimi made the correction that we had four casualties. Three of them are police officers, as I said, and one of them is related to the former Minister of Defense forces AMF, Afghan Militia Forces. There were also three others injured. Two of them were police officers and the other from the Afghan Militia Forces.