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U.N. Envoy to Afghanistan on Election Hopes & Challenges

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 17 2014 (IPS) - With the Afghan election date set for April 5, 2014, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, outlined his expectations as well as his concerns for a successful democratic process in the country.

“The success of the April 2014 elections will be of critical significance in reinforcing Afghanistan’s institutional and political stability and instilling confidence in the future,” said Kubiš, during his address to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Monday.

Kubiš emphasised the importance of universal participation of Afghan men and women in the elections, as well as the centrality of security and prevention of “spoilers and terrorists.”

During the UNSC meeting, the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was renewed for another 12 months.

The UNSC also expressed a unanimous expectation that the upcoming election be a timely, credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process. The election is expected to be a “strong move” contributing further “stability and prosperity,” said Kubiš.

“Election preparations are well on track and we expect that the elections will take place as planned,” he continued, adding that quality elections are important for continued support for Afghanistan on the part of the international community.

“The expectation is that, notably after 2014, linked to the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but also the changed environment, it is expected that the U.N. and UNAMA will play even a more prominent role with regard to all core and critical elements of the mandate,” explained Kubiš. “We should be even more active, even more visible.”

Currently, UNAMA is present in 13 locations across Afghanistan. The added presence is expected to provide additional support for the Afghan authorities going forward.

Additionally, Kubiš identified a concern about the presence of the illicit narcotic trade in Afghanistan, particularly its role in funding terrorism. UNAMA plans to continue to address this in a facilitating role, in cooperation with the Afghan authorities.

April’s election will mark Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power, coming during a time where the Afghan authorities are taking increasingly greater responsibility for their domestic affairs.

Following an attack last January, in which four members of UNAMA were killed in a Kabul restaurant, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and stated, “We fully support the transition of Afghanistan toward a better future in peace, development and security.”

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