Ambassador Raff Bukun-Olu Onemola
Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
New York, NY
29th September, 2010
I too would like to thank Mr. Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), for his comprehensive briefing on the situation in Afghanistan, including the recently concluded parliamentary elections. I should also like to welcome His Excellency Mr. Zaimal Rassoul to the Council’s meeting today. I will limit my intervention to issues of political developments, elections, security, economic development and the regional dimension.
We congratulate the Government and the people of Afghanistan on the successful holding of the parliamentary elections on 18 September 2010. With many candidates competing for many parliamentary seats, the challenges of conducting the parliamentary elections in the face of threats of violence from diehard insurgents were quite daunting. Nigeria therefore salutes the courage and resilience of the Afghan people for defying the odds and exercising their rights, noting that they demonstrated their determination to consolidate the country’s fledgling democracy with a large turnout during the voting in spite of threats and intimidation. The increased participation of women, especially those seeking elected office, is another demonstration of the continued commitment to democracy.
We commend the Independent Electoral Commission for managing and facilitating the electoral process. We also commend UNAMA for providing the training and the technical and logistical support needed for the election.
As we await the full and final outcome of the voting, the challenge facing Afghanistan’s political leaders is to ensure that the efforts and sacrifices of the people are not wasted. The results should therefore reflect the will of the people. In this regard, we urge that all the complaints filed with the Electoral Complaints Commission be thoroughly investigated.
The partial recount of votes from seven of the country’s 34 provinces, ordered only yesterday, should also be painstakingly conducted. We urge all aggrieved parties to act with caution and seek recourse to legal channels for redress. The Electoral Complaints Commission is encouraged to apply lessons learned from previous elections and to resolve all irregularities and complaints in a timely manner and in accordance with the law.
Resolving the political impasse over the remaining nominations to the Cabinet, as agreed at the Peace Jirga, is equally important to the consolidation of Afghanistan’s democratic process. We urge both the legislative and the executive branches to act expeditiously to resolve the impasse. To support reconciliation and a political settlement, there should be sustained negotiations and dialogue between the parties. We therefore hope that the
Government’s appointment, on Tuesday, 28 September, of the members of the High Peace Council — comprising warlords, village elders and women — will give impetus to the reconciliation process in the country.
Nigeria shares the Secretary-General’s concern about the deteriorating security situation in
Afghanistan. The more than 300 cases of attacks in the period leading up to and during the elections confirmed the precarious state of security in the country. Polling centers were blown up in Kunar, Khost and Kandahar, and rocket attacks were launched against polling centers in populated areas of Nangarhar and Kunar, killing several civilians. Only yesterday, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry confirmed a suicide attack that killed Mr. Mohammad Kazim Allahyar, Deputy Governor of Ghazni province, and five others in a direct attack on his vehicle. These security challenges call for the continuous strengthening of the capacity and state of readiness of the Government as it prepares to assume full law enforcement responsibilities in the country by 2014.
Nigeria reiterates its support for the Government’s action plan, and urges the international community to align its resources and activities in support of the programme and priorities contained in the plan. The development of infrastructure should be accorded priority, as it will stimulate employment and help the Afghan Government to create a viable and self-sustaining economy that is less dependent on foreign aid. The international community has the responsibility to support the Government’s follow through on its renewed commitment to the dual track of security and effective accountability to the people, made at the Kabul Conference. The Government should take concrete steps to ensure good governance, tackle corruption, improve accountability, adhere to the rule of law, and reform the justice system.
The increasing cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors on cross-border crime, illicit drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking demonstrates the importance of the regional dimension in confronting the challenges facing the country. In this connection, we commend the setting-up of the high level Core Group to create the framework for cooperation between the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank. We welcome UNAMA’s participation in these efforts. In conclusion, Nigeria expresses its appreciation to the staff and personnel of UNAMA for their dedication, and to Special Representative De Mistura for his commitment to the peace efforts in Afghanistan.