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Germany, Denmark Support Afghanistan Election Observation

June 15, 2010

German Ambassador Werner H. Lauk, FEFA Chairman Nadery Nadery, Danish Ambassador A. Carsten Damsgaard, and FEFA Executive Director Jandad Spinghar at the observation mission signing ceremony and press conference on June 16, 2010 in Kabul.

Kabul, June 16, 2010 – Ambassadors Werner H. Lauk of Germany and A. Carsten Damsgaard of Denmark signed an agreement with the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) on June 15, to fund the monitor’s 2010 election observation mission.  The German government contributed 2.3 million USD and the Danish government provided 500,000 USD for the project.

In their remarks at the signing ceremony on Tuesday, the German and Danish ambassadors praised the courage of Afghan voters and emphasized the importance of domestic election observation to the integrity of the upcoming parliamentary poll.

“I have been deeply impressed and humbled by the commitment and the courage many Afghans have shown in past elections, despite fear, intimidation and violence,” Lauk told an audience of election observers, human rights advocates and journalists at FEFA’s Kabul headquarters. “I am grateful to all of them for their dedication and service to their country – not last to FEFA’s staff and volunteers, whom I commend for their courage and personal engagement.”

“Without independent observers on the ground to watch over the electoral process and polling on Election Day, the population of Afghanistan will not know whether their vote was properly respected.” Damsgaard said.  “International election observer missions can provide important insight into this but only Afghan observer missions can ensure proper Afghan ownership over the observation.”

With German and Danish assistance, FEFA will carry out its fourth and most ambitious national election observation mission, deploying 400 long-term observers in 34 provinces from the beginning of the campaigns later this month.

These observers will collect information on an array of issues, including security threats against candidates, voters and election workers, women’s participation, the presence of media, and the conduct of electoral institutions.

On Election Day, FEFA will deploy approximately 6,600 additional volunteer observers to monitor voting and tallying of ballots, bringing the total number of FEFA observers nationwide to roughly 7,000 –at least one third of whom will be women. The presence of FEFA’s observers will bolster public confidence in the integrity of the elections, promote the participation of women, and contribute to an independent audit of the electoral process.

At the signing ceremony, FEFA Chairman Nader Nadery thanked the German and Danish governments, saying “I look forward to our continued partnership in strengthening the work-in-progress that is Afghan democracy.”

Founded in 2004 as a national, independent, non-governmental organization, FEFA works to ensure that democratic processes are implemented transparently through election observation, civic education, research, and advocacy. It is Afghanistan’s oldest and largest domestic election monitor.

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