Baird Statement on Start of Afghan Presidential Election Campaign

February 2, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“This election marks an important transition for Afghanistan and is an opportunity to demonstrate how far the country has come since 2001.

“Canada deplores the killing yesterday of two aides to a presidential candidate and urges all parties to campaign peacefully.

“Credible, constitutional and inclusive elections are vital to ensuring Afghanistan’s future stability and democratic development. We encourage all Afghan women and men to participate actively in this important process in a peaceful and constructive manner.

“The empowerment and leadership of women are integral to Afghanistan’s future. Their meaningful participation in every aspect of the election process is crucial to ensuring the credibility of the outcome.

“Canada will look to Afghanistan’s new government to ensure that the protections for and advancements of women and girls—achieved at such sacrifice—are maintained. There is no peace when security does not exist for half the population.

“Canada is committed to supporting the Afghan people in their efforts to build a more secure and stable Afghanistan that is never again a safe haven for terrorists.”

A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Support for Elections in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s presidential and provincial council elections are scheduled for April 5, 2014. February 2 is the official start of the presidential campaign period.

The election will be an important transition for Afghanistan, as the constitution prevents President Hamid Karzai from running for election for a third time. Eleven candidates are running for president. Two candidates have named a woman as one of their vice-presidential running mates. Official results are expected on May 14, 2014. If no one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election between the top two candidates will take place in late May.

Canada is committed to supporting the Afghan people and Afghan civil society as they build their new democracy and as they make their voices—particularly the voices of women—heard during the upcoming elections. To that end, Canada is contributing more than $1.8 million for two projects that will help support a more credible and representative democratic process during the 2014 election.

Enhancing Participation and Protection of Citizens’ Democratic Rights
Implementing partner: Asia Foundation
Amount: Up to $1,209,000

With Canada’s support, the Asia Foundation will educate Afghan women and youth about basic electoral processes, such as how to vote, in an effort to increase their participation in upcoming elections. This project also supports the Foundation’s work to train female election observers, increasing electoral accountability and transparency in Afghanistan.

This initiative builds on a previous Canadian-funded project that trained and registered 156 Afghan women as election observers with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and also educated more than 29,000 Afghan boys and girls on basic electoral processes through 22 mock elections held in high schools across the country.

Deepening Democracy: 2014 Elections Observation Project
Implementing partner: Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan
Amount: Up to $600,000

Canada is providing up to $600,000 in support of the Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan to train and deploy up to 68 provincial coordinators and 200 long-term observers to monitor and report on the 2014 pre-election campaign activities. This project complements the broader efforts of the international community to support credible and constitutional elections in Afghanistan and aims to increase female participation in the electoral process through outreach activities and strategic partnering with women-focused civil society organizations.