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'Stop Killing Civilians,' UN Urges the Taliban Ahead Of Vote

'Stop Killing Civilians,' Senior UN Official Urges the Taliban Ahead Of National Vote

New York, Feb 22 2014 - Ahead of Afghanistan's national elections, the top United Nations official in the country is calling on the Taliban to stop attempts to disrupt the electoral process and to act in accordance with international law.

"My message [to the Taliban] directly or indirectly, allow the people to vote. This is their right. These are your people. This is your country as well," the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, said in an interview with Tolo TV.

"My second appeal, allow also those, not only those that will vote, but the candidates that campaign, election workers to be able to work," added Mr. Kubiš, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 14 per cent in 2013, UNAMA reported earlier this month. Findings also showed that more women and children were killed or injured in conflict-related violence since 2009.

"Stop killing civilians," Mr. Kubiš said during the interview, addressing the group directly.

Acknowledging that Afghanistan faces major security challenges, the Special Envoy believed that "everything will be done to ensure that the polling stations will open and [be] accessible to the people. Everything will be done to ensure that the security environment, to the extent possible, will be there, but we know how the situation is."

Mr. Kubiš expressed confidence in the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to ensure "the right possible enabling environment for having the elections throughout the country."

Overall, he said he was "reasonably satisfied" with the preparations for the 5 April polls when voters will elect a president from among 11 candidates. The current two-term president, Hamid Karzai, will not be eligible to run.

In addition, voters will select members for the 34 councils, one from each province, whose membership ranges from nine to 29 members, depending on population. More than 2,700 candidates are cleared to run in this election.

Mr. Kubiš said that it was "very encouraging to see the first elections that are fully in the hands of Afghans". The international community has said it views these elections as central to Afghanistan's stable and sustainable political transition. "Afghanistan is doing well," he stressed.

He underlined, however, the need to make sure that all electoral processes are "as clear as possible, as correct as possible, as inclusive as possible".

"The success and satisfaction with the results of elections are depended on the credibility of the process and preparations," he added.

UNAMA does not formally have a role in the Afghan-led, Afghan-managed electoral process, but has been supporting authorities and the independent electoral bodies by advising on election-related matters, Mr. Kubiš said.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

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