Radio Australia (,Aug.17, 2005

UN says Afghan elections under threat from violence, corruption

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says a resurgent Taliban, a rampant drug trade and persistent corruption are hampering Afghanistan's reconstruction and threatening next month's elections.

Mr Annan says the country urgently needs extra funding to prevent any further delay in parliamentary and provincial elections, now set for September 18.

The elections were originally expected in October 2004.

In his latest progress report on Afghanistan, Mr Annan says some $US31 million is needed to avoid any slippage in the technical preparations for the elections.

International donors have already contributed $US8.4 billion to help Afghanistan rebuild and establish itself as a democracy after decades of violence.

"Afghanistan today is suffering from a level of insecurity, especially in the south and parts of the east, not seen since the departure of the Taliban," his report said.

"There have been troubling indications that remnants of the Taliban and other extremist groups are reorganising."

Afghanistan is also struggling with a thriving drug trade, corruption and a weak economy.

The UN says Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer, creating nearly 87 per cent of the world's supply.

"There is no simple answer to the problems of extremist violence and terrorism," Mr Annan said.

"The government of Afghanistan must do its share to address them, in particular by tackling forcefully official corruption and ineffectiveness, which undermine the population's confidence in government institutions."

AND according to Xinhua New Agency, Aug.16, 2005:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Tuesday that the overall objective to restore peace and stability in the war-torn country of Afghanistan remains to be met.

Elections alone "will not be sufficient for the establishment of lasting peace in Afghanistan," Annan said in his latest report to the Security Council on Afghanistan. "Security, effective institutions and development will require time and concerted effort to build upon the political achievement of the past three-and-a-half years."

He noted that the security situation remains a paramount concern, saying "it is impossible to overestimate the importance of restoring security in Afghanistan as a condition for the sustainability of the peace process."

Annan also noted a rise in the level of insurgency in that country, as well as in the sophistication of the insurgents' weaponry and in the types of attacks being carried out.

The southern and eastern parts of the country have borne the brunt of the recent upsurge in violence, he said.

The Secretary-General pointed out that even without the burden of violent insurgency, the reconstruction of Afghanistan faces a truly formidable combination of challenges, including the pervasive drug economy, some of the worst social and economic indicators in the world and the consequences of what was one of the deadliest confrontations of the Cold War.

"It will no doubt require long-term commitment on the part of the international community to see this process to a successful conclusion," Annan said.

Afghanistan's myriad difficulties, including internal and external, and those inherited from the past, should not draw attention away from the "remarkable achievements" such as the election of a new government and the adoption of a new constitution, all over the past two and half years, since the Bonn Agreement set the country on the road to stability in 2001, he said.

Preparations for the Sept. 18 elections that will wrap up the Bonn process are on track, with over 5,000 registered candidates and about 1.5 million newly registered voters, Annan said.

He also warned that ballot faces a serious funding gap and some31 million US dollars is urgently needed in order to avoid a delayin holding the elections.

He urged government of Afghanistan and international security forces to remain vigilant with regard to all sources of intimidation and violence against voters and candidates.

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