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New Zealand support to Afghan elections

21 August 2005

New Zealand support to Afghan elections

New Zealand has agreed to contribute $1 million to the United Nations to assist with the running of democratic elections in Afghanistan on September 18.

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New Zealand has agreed to contribute $1 million to the United Nations to assist with the running of democratic elections in Afghanistan on September 18, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today after meeting with Afghani Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

"As His Excellency Dr Abdullah has noted during his visit, New Zealand has offered significant support to Afghanistan during a difficult time. This new funding emphasises New Zealand's commitment to helping Afghanistan progress towards a strong and fair democracy and comes on top of the $1 million we gave in March, also in support of the electoral process," Marian Hobbs said.

"Our funding will be provided by our international aid and development agency, NZAID and will go into a United Nations' managed fund to support a wide range of activities related to the elections. These could include logistics, staffing, public information and support for the registration process.

"By comparison with New Zealand's current election process, Afghanistan's National Assembly elections are truly challenging in scale. Although the total number of candidates who will stand for election is unknown at this stage, it is anticipated that there could be as many as 5,000 -10,000 candidates across all of the Provincial Councils and Wolesi Jirga (lower house) constituencies being elected.

"Eleven million Afghanis were registered to vote in the recent Presidential elections and it is likely the roll could be even more for the National Assembly elections. Polling will take place on September 18 in an estimated 30,000 Polling Stations in 5,000 locations throughout Afghanistan staffed by almost 200,000 polling staff.

"There are currently 180 New Zealand Defence Force staff stationed in Afghanistan to assist with the reconstruction effort. In Bamyan Province our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) will play an important role ensuring the elections can take place in a safe and secure environment.

"We should be proud of the role New Zealand is playing in assisting Afghanistan secure a brighter future for its people. By the end of this year, New Zealand will have contributed more than NZ$110 million in assistance to Afghanistan, this has included work to rebuild schools and a university, reconnect safe drinking water and recently work began on a maternity wing for the hospital in Bamyan province."

ENDS

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