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IRI's Preliminary Statement on Afghanistan's Elections

September 19, 2005

Kabul, Afghanistan – IRI's election observation delegation found that Afghanistan took another major step in building a democratic state when they went to the polls on September 18, 2005.  For the first time in 30 years, Afghan men and women have elected national and provincial representatives who will represent them and give them a voice in a new Afghanistan.

IRI monitored more than 1,200 polling locations in 16 provinces and found the following:

  • Yesterday's elections were well organized, with Afghan election workers well trained and professional;
  • The number of domestic monitors and candidate agents and their contribution to the transparency of the elections are a positive sign for Afghanistan's election process;
  • IRI observers reported higher turnout in regions of the country other than Kabul;
  • Voters, who clearly understood their important role in democracy, appeared well informed as to the balloting process; and
  • Given the understandable decision to not count the ballots at the polling stations, it is extremely important that the security of the ballots be guaranteed and that the vote count be open and transparent.
IRI's delegation for Afghanistan's parliamentary and provincial council elections was led by Constance Berry Newman, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  Other delegates were Rich Galen, senior advisor, Manning, Selvage & Lee; Brett Hamm, assistant to the mayor and chief of staff, Office of the Mayor of Oklahoma City; Bill Nojay, business attorney in private practice; Jay Rhodes, former Congressman from Arizona; and Diane Tebelius, elections expert and attorney, LeSourd and Patten. IRI staff also served as observers, led by Lorne Craner, President of IRI and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights; Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President of IRI; Tom Garrett, Regional Director for IRI's Middle East and North Africa division; and Rob Varsalone, Country Director for IRI's Afghanistan program. More than 55 Afghan nationals also served as IRI observers.

IRI began working in Afghanistan in 2002.  In October 2004, IRI was the only U.S. organization that observed Afghanistan's presidential election.  In advance of the September 18 elections, IRI trained more than 15,000 men and women who considered running for office.  IRI staff and its local partners will continue to monitor the count, and IRI will issue a full report of its findings.

Since 1983, IRI has monitored more than 130 elections worldwide.