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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to provide financial help for training of Afghans who wish to prepare for democratic elections. [110340]

The UK is working with the Afghan Transitional Administration, the UN and international partners to secure the full implementation of the 2001 Bonn Agreement, the framework within which elections in 2004 will take place.We support the efforts of the Transitional Administration to rebuild the mechanisms of government. We contributed £1 million to the office of the UN Special Representative to assist in developing a political framework. We have also contributed £1 million to the Judicial Reform Commission for the development of an independent judicial system, and £500,000 to help fund a process of public consultation in advance of the Constitutional Loya Jirga, which will adopt a new Constitution for Afghanistan later this year.In order to enable more women to participate in both the constitutional and the electoral process the FCO is funding a WOMANKIND Worldwide project in Afghanistan, which will include advocacy and human rights awareness training for women in advance of the Constitutional Loya Jirga and the elections. We hope that the Transitional Administration will, in the near future, establish the Afghan Election Commission. The Election Commission will work with the UN on preparations for the elections, including providing training for election officials. Once the Commission has been established, we will consider what further assistance we can provide.