UN Security Council Demands Credible Polls in Afghanistan

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UNITED NATIONS, March 24, 2009 – The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution stressing the need to ensure credible presidential and provincial polls in Afghanistan next August.

Resolution 1868 also renewed the mandate of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which expires Monday, for another year and pressed for “all efforts to be made to ensure the credibility, safety and security of the elections.”

The text, which was drafted by Japan, recognized UNAMA’s “key role” in supporting the electoral process and stressed the importance of bolstering and expanding its presence as well as that of other UN bodies.

It made clear that UNAMA and its Norwegian chief Kai Eide “will continue to lead the international civilian efforts” to beef up cooperation with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at all levels and throughout the country in order to improve civil-military cooperation.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon immediately hailed the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate and “in particular, the Security Council’s reaffirmation of the United Nations’ central and impartial role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” his press office said.

The 15-member council also urged strengthened efforts “to improve governance and the rule of law and to combat corruption at the local and national levels and to promote development initiatives at the local level.”

It also appealed to international donors and organizations as well as to the Kabul government to adhere to commitments made at the Paris conference last June.

Last Thursday, Eide called on the Kabul government to reassure its opposition that upcoming presidential polls will be “fair and transparent” amid expectations of stepped-up fighting by Taliban insurgents.

“The Afghan government must demonstrate that it will do its utmost to reassure the opposition that elections will be fair and will be transparent and that the resources of incumbency will not be misused,” he told the Security Council.

Against a backdrop of a deteriorating security situation, the August 20 polls are seen as a key test of Karzai’s rule, as well as of the seven-year-old US- and NATO-led efforts to stabilize the war-torn country.

The Taliban, driven from government in a US-led invasion for sheltering Al-Qaeda after the September 2001 attacks, have steadily increased their attacks in Afghanistan over the past two years.

More than 70,000 international soldiers, serving under NATO and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, are helping prop up the Karzai government.

(source ANTARA/AFP)

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