US urges frontrunners to avoid divisive messages

 
KABUL (Pajhwok):  The United States on Tuesday called on both the frontrunners in next week’s presidential runoff election and supporters to avoid divisive messages because Afghans needed their next president to bring Afghanistan together. 
In a statement, US Ambassador in Kabul James Cunningham said the second round of election due in few days was a truly unique historic opportunity before the Afghans to enter a new era. 
“This imposes a heavy responsibility on the candidates and their supporters and on the Afghan elections and security institutions.  Success will be an outcome that is broadly accepted by Afghans, unites the country, and produces a strong president who has a mandate to govern and lead,” the ambassador said. 
He said the desired result would open the way to continued progress for Afghanistan, and for the support which the United States and its partners wished to provide. 
“An outcome which produces division, confrontation and prolonged uncertainty will make that progress and support much more difficult to secure.  No one should be complacent about what is at stake in the coming weeks.”    
Cunningham said they called on both the candidates to direct their campaigns and supporters not to engage in fraud.  “Fraud will be discovered and undermine the credibility of those who commit it.”
He also called on the candidates to support the electoral commissions and their work and to refrain from criticism that was s not supported with clear evidence.   
The government and the elections and security institutions must be professional and neutral in carrying out their duties at every level, he stressed. 
“It is our fervent hope that the two candidates, with the future of their country in their hands at this unprecedented time, will not seek a winner-take-all outcome.”
He said the US wanted the two candidates and their supporters to promote inclusion and national unity.
“That will be necessary to move Afghanistan forward. Likewise, whoever does not win the presidency can show leadership by accepting the results and joining the effort with the new president to build a better Afghanistan.”
With a successful election and the early signature of the Bilateral Security Agreement, he said the next president would have a strong foundation from which to address Afghanistan’s challenges. 
“This foundation includes continued support to strengthen the Afghan forces and the economic and development assistance crucial to Afghanistan’s future.”
He said the United States looked forward to working with whomever the Afghan people choose through a credible, inclusive, and transparent process.
“That is the responsibility of the Afghan voter:  to return to the polling station with the same commitment as on April 5.  Each Afghan who does so on June 14 demonstrates the determination that gives great hope for a better, more prosperous and stronger Afghanistan.”
About the April 5 elections, Cunningham said the world applauded the success of Afghanistan’s elections and congratulated the approximately seven million men and women who braved Taliban threats, bad weather, and long lines to cast their votes. 
“Afghans proudly displayed their ink-stained fingers, hopeful for their country and emphatically rejecting the empty, barren Taliban vision for Afghanistan.”
In the previous elections, he said Afghan forces performed superbly in protecting voters and the elections. 
The electoral commissions administered the election and adjudicated complaints, working hard to produce results accepted by the Afghan people, he said.
“Afghans are proud of what they have achieved with the elections, and they should be,” remarked the US envoy.
pr/ma

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