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Afghanistan: Concern Over Deteriorating Security


Afghanistan: UN Envoy Expresses Concern Over Deteriorating Security

Voicing concern over the volatile security situation in Afghanistan, the top United Nations envoy to the country today urged NATO to consider the importance of stability there, especially in the run-up to planned elections.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Jean Arnault, head of the UN mission (UNAMA), cited a series of violent and sometimes deadly attacks in the past three weeks as evidence that the situation "has become more volatile."

Last night, three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at an electoral office close to Kabul. On Friday there was a similar attack in Kandahar in the country's south. On 9 June, near Kunduz in the north, 11 Chinese construction workers and their local guard were killed after an ambush on their living compound.

"We are now facing direct attacks with fairly heavy weapons against the office of the electoral process," he said. "This is clearly an attempt at undermining the process and again it stresses how important it is for the international community to do more in order to assist this process."

National presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in September. Voter registration is currently taking place across the country.

As NATO countries prepare to gather in the coming days in Istanbul, where they are slated to take a decision on further troop deployment in Afghanistan, Mr. Arnault urged the organization to consider the country's pressing security concerns during the electoral process.

He also reminded NATO of the need to continue helping former fighters in Afghanistan to rejoin society.

On the positive side, Mr. Arnault said that the quickening pace of voter registration in recent weeks indicates that Afghans strongly desire political participation, despite the threats from extremists.

Over 4.1 million Afghans - about a third of them women - have now registered, with daily figures topping 101,000 twice last week. Afghan authorities estimate there are 9.5 million potential eligible voters.

Mr. Arnault said the fast pace "confirms that an electoral process is something that is meaningful to the overwhelming majority of the people."

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