Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban must begin as soon as possible while briefing the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the country.
He said due to the recent incidents, it is urgent to find a political settlement to end the long Afghan conflict. The political settlement must include a promise to continue to protect and advance human rights and fundamental freedoms for all who live in Afghanistan, including those of women, youth, and minorities, as well as the freedom of expression and the media.
“These talks must be inclusive, representing the whole spectrum of Afghan society. It is imperative therefore that direct talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban commence as soon as possible,” the UN envoy said.
He said the conflict could end by directly talking to Afghan people. Hence, he has listened to many Afghan people from across the country who expressed their hopes and fears about the future.
“They hope for an end to the conflict, but they also fear that peace might come at the sacrifice of freedom and rights which the country has striven to protect and advance for the past 18 years,” Mr. Yamamoto said.
The recent informal talks between representatives from Afghan society and the Taliban in Moscow and Doha, gave opportunities for dialogue to address some key issues needed for peace, he added.
“I hope that this experience will be carried forward and help deepen dialogue for constructive outcomes,” the UN envoy said.
He also said the United Nations stands ready to support an intra-Afghan process, drawing on our impartiality and expertise.
“I also wish to point out that peace efforts need to address and bring about a reduction in violence and eventual ceasefire,” he added.
For the upcoming election, Yamamoto said the United Nations supports fully the efforts of the Independent Election Commission, IEC, and Electoral Complaints Commission, ECC, security institutions, civil society, and above all, candidates, their supporters and voters to conduct credibleand inclusive elections on schedule.
“Credible elections would provide an important political foundation for the future of the country as well as legitimacy and authority to the elected President, which would be particularly important in view of the expected peace process,” he said.
“Voter turnout is important for elections. 9.6 million people have registered. Voter turnout could be negatively affected by security, but also by the general interest of voters,” Mr. Yamamoto said. “Through our field offices, we have a sense that interest in the elections is not as high as it could be.”
He asked Afghans to exercise their right to vote and urged electoral bodies and candidates to call upon people to come out and vote.
“Candidates, political parties, civil society and the media all have the ability to field monitors to the process on Election Day, so I call on all stakeholders to obtain accreditation with the IEC in order to be present in every polling station,” Yamamoto said.
He expressed his concerns over civilian casualties and said “The parties to the conflict must reduce violence and civilian casualties to demonstrate their seriousness for peace.”