Statement by Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative At the ceremony of transfer of IT equipment from UNDP to CEC

September 22, 2020

Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative at the ceremony of transfer of IT equipment from UNDP to CEC. Photo: Ulukbek Adanbaev/UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address you here on behalf of UNDP. Today we are accomplishing an important task in the preparations for the parliamentary elections – the transfer of essential, upgraded equipment for voter identification.

I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for the close partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic and the Japanese Government through the Embassy of Japan in Kyrgyzstan. Thanks to the generous contribution of Japan, voters in can go to the polls on the 4th of October knowing that the technical equipment is of the highest possible technical standard.

The equipment for biometric voter registration and identification was introduced in previous electoral cycles – also then with the support of the UNDP and the Embassy of Japan – and played a crucial role in ensuring people’s trust in the voting process and contributed to international recognition of the elections. In essence, biometric registration guarantees that one person can have only one vote.

This year Japan and UNDP have supported the replacement of about one-third of the total stock of equipment of 6,500 voter identification kits, in order to safeguard success in the parliamentary elections.

Some people may wonder why substantial funds were needed to again purchase additional equipment, when the equipment worked so well last time!

Well, the reason is that such biometric identification equipment is used not only during the elections or by the CEC, but also between elections by several government agencies to provide a range of administrative services – especially citizens’ registration, issuance of passport, and others. As you can imagine, the equipment is subject to ‘wear and tear’ and some of the equipment has degraded due to its intense use over time.  

On elections day, with 3.5 million voters going to the polls at the same time, there is no tolerance for failure. Accuracy and speed of the equipment are extremely important, and only high-performing equipment can be accepted. This is why the support by the government of Japan is so timely and essential, and this contribution will pave the way for a sustained progress on technological modernization in Kyrgyzstan’s electoral history.

I would also like to inform that procurement was done by UNDP’s international Procurement Services Unit in Copenhagen through a highly competitive process and under the best international procurement standards. Throughout this process, UNDP has worked in close consultation with and under the leadership of the Central Election Commission and the State Registry Service to ensure that equipment fully matches the needs of Kyrgyz voters. I am pleased to note that we – during a time when all global markets are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic - secured not only a very competitive price but timely delivery in order for all equipment to be tested, and training of the operators to take place, well in advance of the elections.

Let me take the opportunity to mention that with the savings recorded through the international competitive process, we have also been able to procure additional equipment to further strengthen communication between the polling stations and CEC, and we are exploring together with CEC how to support additional modernization in accordance with the country’s digitalization plans for the future.

Today we are symbolically making the transfer of equipment in a real polling station. We have been able to touch and test the equipment and feel what it will be like for Kyrgyz voters. I wish to thank Mdm Shaildabekova for personally demonstrating this process to us here today. I myself have been able to see how each voter can vote only once.

And every vote matters. Citizens have the right to vote and to use their vote without the influence of anyone. I believe this is the single most important motivation for voters to come to the polling stations, to cast their vote and participate in choosing their future. Above all, voters can feel confidence in the integrity of the voting process. How they have voted is their personal secret known only to them alone.

Madam Chair, together with our partners Japan, Switzerland and Germany, UNDP has done its level best in the implementation of our support to the parliamentary elections. We compliment you on the strong preparations and high level of readiness of the CEC to conduct the elections on the 4th of October and we hope and wish for the people of Kyrgyzstan a peaceful, inclusive and credible elections process.

I would like to once again thank the Central Election Commission, the State Registry Service, and all the staff of these institutions for the outstanding cooperation we continue to enjoy.

Our sincere gratitude to you personally, Mr. Ambassador, and the staff of the Embassy of Japan for invaluable assistance. I kindly ask you, dear Ambassador, to convey our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Japan for support and assistance in symbolic the promotion of elections and development.

I look forward to continuing our work in support of further enhancing the development of a strong democratic and parliamentary system parliamentarism in Kyrgyzstan.

Thank you for attention.