Ban Ki-moon: Afghan President Must Ensure Freedom
New York, Nov 3 2009 6:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai – re-elected after his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the run-off planned for next week – to take all steps necessary to ensure that the people of the South Asian nation can “enjoy genuine freedom, democracy, stability and prosperity.”
Over the weekend, Mr. Ban made an unannounced visit to Kabul, where five UN staff members were killed and nine others injured in an attack on a guest house on 28 October, for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility.
In a meeting with Mr. Karzai in the Afghan capital, Mr. Ban said that he urged the leader to ensure good governance, “including the eradication of corruptive practices prevalent in Afghanistan, controlling drug trafficking and forming a unity government with experienced ministers and government officials.”
He (http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=1341)told reporters in London today that he also called on the President to reach out to “all the ethnic groups, all people, and political and religious leaders,” including those who were themselves presidential candidates such as Mr. Abdullah. He gained nearly one-third of the popular vote in the first round of elections.
In spite of the last week’s “heinous” terrorist attack, the Secretary-General vowed that the United Nations will continue supporting Afghanistan’s Government.
“We cannot and will not be deterred,” he emphasized.
Last Wednesday, Mr. Ban paid tribute to the victims of the attack, (http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=4193) saying that “those who gave their lives... came to Afghanistan armed not with guns or bullets. They came with a more powerful weapon – hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future.
“We will not be deterred from this noble mission. We stand by the people of Afghanistan today, and we will do so tomorrow,” he added.
While in Kabul, Mr. Ban also met with his Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (http://unama.unmissions.org/), Kai Eide, as well as the heads of UN agencies working in the country and security officials.