March 4th, 2009 16:41 EST
UN Envoy To Afghanistan Welcomes August Election Date
UN NEWS CENTRE
4 March 2009 " The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today welcomed the decision by the country`s Independent Election Commission (IEC) reaffirming 20 August as the date of the 2009 presidential and provincial council elections, stressing that this will allow time for the necessary preparations for the polls.
This date will provide the time needed for the IEC with the support of the international community to make practical and logistical preparations, for candidates to campaign, and for Afghan and international forces to provide security, " the Secretary-General`s Special Representative, Kai Eide, said in a statement issued in Kabul.
The decision by the Commission comes just days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly called for the elections to be moved up to April.
Mr. Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the holding of elections is of paramount importance for consolidating democracy in the country. Therefore, I emphasize the need for broad consensus so that the election process can move forward in a way that ensures the political stability of the country and the legitimacy of its institutions.
The Special Representative also stressed the need for the elections to be transparent and credible, noting the shared responsibility of Afghan authorities and the international community to this end.
Pledging that the UN will do its utmost to contribute to this effort, Mr. Eide said he will continue to meet Afghan political leaders in the coming days with a view to achieving national consensus for these elections to take place in a credible and organized way.