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Afghanistan: Elections

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the recent elections in Afghanistan were free and fair. (291267)

The 20 August 2009 Presidential and Provincial Council elections in Afghanistan were the first Afghan-run elections for over 30 years. That the insurgents were unable to disrupt this important day is a tribute to the Afghan National Security Forces and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s International Security Assistance Force. The Afghan people want and deserve the right to decide the future of their country and we and the international community are committed to helping them achieve this. Credible elections, that represent the will of the people, demonstrate that the Afghan Government have the authority to rule.

We and the rest of the international community are following the elections result process closely. There have been allegations of fraud but it is important that we wait for the Election Complaints Commission to complete their investigation processes into allegations of fraud, and for the election observation missions to report their conclusive findings. In this intervening period, we call on all parties to exercise patience and respect the process for which so many Afghans made their support clear on polling day.

The UN, the relevant Afghan authorities and international observation missions have taken every possible measure to prevent fraud. The Afghan Independent Election Commission, the UN and the international community worked hard to ensure that there was a level playing field for candidates, and that these elections could be as credible and inclusive as possible. Multiple safeguards such as photographs and fingerprints were in place to minimise fraudulent registration and voting.

There were over 400 international observers on the ground, including 100 from the EU. 7,000 independent monitors were also registered with the Independent Electoral Commission by the Afghan Free and Fair Elections Association. The UK has helped fund election observation missions and 23 of our staff participated in the EU observation mission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions on the subject of Mr. Al-Megrahi he has had with the Scottish Executive Justice Minister in 2009. (291327)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any discussions with the Scottish Executive Justice Minister on the subject of Mr. Al-Megrahi.