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Towards a democratic Afghanistan

2009/08/20

Today, the population of Afghanistan go to the polls to elect the country’s president and members of provincial councils. These first Afghan-led elections since the 1970’s have been held under circumstances that are particularly difficult, given the insecure situation in the country.

Still, the campaign period has been remarkable, with a vital and professional political debate extensively covered by domestic media. Hopefully, this will contribute to a large proportion of Afghan citizens using their right to vote before polling stations close this evening.

There is, however, serious risk that turnout in certain areas will be low, as the Taliban insurgency is doing everything it can to put voters under threat. The ISAF security forces, with troops from just about all EU Member States, are maintaining high vigilance and work to isolate attempts of disruption.

The importance of credible elections, leading to a result that will be accepted by the Afghan people, cannot be stressed enough. Only a true democratic election, where both men and women are able to cast their votes freely and with fraud kept at the lowest possible level, is what could eventually pave the way towards a democratic, stable and secure Afghanistan.

The European Union commits full support to the Afghan Independent Election Commission in conducting the elections. The Union also shows its commitment through its election observation mission. Headed by my former collegue from the European Parliament, French General Philippe Morillon, it will play an important role in providing an independent and impartial assessment of the election process.

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