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IRI President Testifies on Importance of Credible Elections in Afghanistan

October 1, 2009

Washington, DC – Lorne W. Craner, President of IRI, testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia chaired by Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (NY). Craner’s testimony focused on the importance of a credible outcome to Afghanistan’s August 20 elections, which IRI monitored.

In IRI’s August 21 preliminary statement and in his testimony today, Craner stressed that, “All elections are a process of pre-election environment, pre-election administration, Election Day voting, vote counting and post-election adjudication, resulting in acceptance of legitimate results.”  Afghanistan is still in the last phase of the electoral process – post-election adjudication, resulting in acceptance of legitimate results – and as Craner stated, “The legitimacy of the elections will impact Afghan perceptions about the credibility of future governments and the ability of future leaders to effectively address the country’s pressing challenges – security, the economy and unemployment.”

As the U.S. government continues to formulate its policy regarding the outcome of the current political situation, Craner recommended the following four principles:  

  • Legitimacy precedes capacity. The critical work of strengthening governance at the district, provincial, parliamentary and central government levels can only be successful if Afghans believe their officials are legitimately elected.
  • Rule of law must prevail in the elections. Due process provisions to adjudicate electoral irregularities prescribed in Afghanistan’s Electoral Law must be complied with to reach a legitimate outcome.
  • If needed, an interim leader must be selected through a transparent mechanism acceptable to the Afghan people. The Afghanistan constitution does not establish a clear process to identify an interim leader in the event a protracted adjudication of electoral complaints ensues.
  • Post-election environment must focus on good governance. Election of legitimate leaders is only a first step and must be followed with a competence to govern by addressing the needs of the Afghan population.