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Afghanistan: Pres. Karzai Calls for Global Aid

Ahead of polls in Afghanistan, President Karzai calls for sustained global aid

With just over two weeks before Afghanistan is scheduled to hold historic presidential elections, the country's current leader today appealed to top officials from across the world meeting at the United Nations to sustain their support for the nascent democracy.

Addressing the afternoon session of the General Assembly's annual high-level debate, President Hamid Karzai said terrorists had tried to disrupt every stage of the polling process, intensifying offensives against voters and election workers in recent weeks. "These attacks have not stopped our people from crossing one milestone after another," he said. "Yet, establishing a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan requires sustained and collaborative efforts by the Afghans, our neighbours and the international community."

He also pointed out that the effects of stability in Afghanistan would reverberate throughout Asia and the world. "Working together for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan is not only a good example of successful international cooperation, but will also contribute to regional prosperity and global security," he said.

Offering the perspective of a country which emerged from war a dozen years ago, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, the President of Mozambique, voiced appreciation for the "resolute and decisive" UN involvement in the peace process, including the mobilization of resources. "This strong support from the international community, combined with the will and determination of our people for peace, led to what many regard as the first example of a successful UN peacekeeping mission in Africa," he said.

Since the conflict in Mozambique ended, the country had benefited from "considerable support from the UN and its various specialized bodies for reconstruction and development activities," he said. "This support has been critical for the economic growth and the gradual improvement of the people's living conditions, the country is experiencing today."

Finland's President, Tarja Halonen, delivered an indictment against the failure of the system of collective security, stressing that the members of the Security Council had a special responsibility to rise above their national interests and ensure international peace. "Before the war in Iraq, the international community failed, however," she said. "Some nations resorted to use of force, which was not compatible with international law."

Looking to the future, she argued that "there is no sustainable alternative to multilateralism" and called on the international community to intervene where human rights were seriously violated, including in the Darfur region of Sudan. "The UN and the international community must be able to act - in time, effectively and as long as needed."

President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso hailed peace in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but noted that Africa continued to be plagued by fighting in Côte d'Ivoire, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan. There were hopes for peace, notably in Côte d'Ivoire thanks to the recent Accra III agreement, he said, pledging Burkina Faso's full support for all efforts to improve stability in Africa.

Human security, he emphasized, required more than the absence of conflict. Poverty was a key threat to social stability, he pointed out, calling for more equitable global economic progress, especially in Africa, where growth has been slow and scourges like AIDS and poverty continued to take their toll. The continent's leaders were prepared to do their part to tackle these challenges, he said, calling on the international community to play its role as well. In particular, he urged rich countries to offer debt relief, adopt more just trading practices and ensure that globalization's benefits can be enjoyed by all.

Marc Ravalomanana, the President of Madagascar, also stressed the importance of development in Africa, where he said national leaders were working towards good governance, while uniting their efforts to improve conditions on the continent. In light of its important international role, Africa should have some form of permanent representation on the Security Council, he said.

He also described how Madagascar had achieved its own political and economic development, while noting that rising oil prices, natural disasters and lack of access to international markets had hampered development. "We need more foreign investment both for the public and private sector," he said. "Africa can become a flourishing continent. Africa has enormous potential." The development of Africa is in the interests of the great powers, he argued. "Africa is ready for a new future."

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