New Multi-Million Dollar UNDP - Japanese Partnership Strengthens Afghan Democracy in Nine Provinces
Kabul, Afghanistan: Four million Afghan voters and nine provinces can look forward to more effective elections and a more responsive democracy following a US$8.6 million agreement signed today between H.E. Reiichiro Takahashi, the Ambassador of Japan and Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez, the Country Director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in the presence of the chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), H.E. Fazal Ahmed Manawi.
The Japanese-sponsored UNDP project “Human Resource and Infrastructural Capacity Development of IEC of Afghanistan” will support the IEC to develop the professional and electoral capacity of its staff and electoral officers at the Kabul headquarters and across Afghanistan.
The agreement will also provide electoral offices and warehouses in nine provinces, including six regional capitals: Balkh, Kunduz, Bamyan, Herat, Nangahar, Paktia, Daikundi, Jawzjan and Laghman. These locations were selected because many of them serve as a hub for regional operations, have a high population concentration, and are relatively secure. This support will contribute to the IEC’s countrywide presence as an effective institution for electoral governance.
The project complements the ongoing electoral assistance project - Enhancing Electoral and Legal Capacity for Tomorrow (ELECT II) – and contributes to the objectives of UNDP’s other donor partners – to assist the IEC to plan and conduct credible elections and to better ensure the integrity of the process.
The new partnership strengthens democratic governance in Afghanistan as the country faces Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
IEC Chairman Mr. Fazal Ahmed Manawi, says:
“The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan appreciates the generous and continuous support of the Government of Japan. Japan’s contribution, of US$8,615,812, follows its earlier contribution of US$56.1 million to electoral assistance in Afghanistan during 2009 and 2010. Under its strategy for the next five years, IEC is planning to develop the capacity of electoral officials and staff, and build necessary infrastructure in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The Japanese support contributes to this effort though training efforts and by building nine provincial offices and warehouses, making the electoral process more sustainable and reducing long-term costs.”
The Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Reiichiro Takahashi, says:
“Since 2001, Japan has supported elections in Afghanistan 8 times amounting to 103 million US dollars, believing that fair and transparent elections are critically important for the democracy of the country. Japan expects that this project, through capacity development of IEC, will help Afghanistan conduct future elections fairly and independently by their own hands. ”
The Country Director of UNDP, Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez, says:
“UNDP is very grateful for this contribution from the Government of Japan which will improve transparent, accountable and sustainable election administration, and build greater public confidence in the electoral process. This project will support the capacity and development of a permanent and independent electoral administration in Afghanistan, and the capacity of the IEC to prepare the next elections.”
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For further information, please contact the following media representatives:
• IEC Information and External Relations Department. Mobile: +93 (0) 799 421 095; +93 (0) 707 186 159
• Sayeed Farhad Zalmai, Communications Associate, United Nations Development Programme Afghanistan. Mobile: +93 (0) 20 212 4158; H/P: +93 (0)793 506 573
• Ahamd Zubair, Senior Coordination Officer, Embassy of Japan. +93 (o) 700 224 428