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Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress made in securing Afghanistan’s democratic future in the last six months. (276629)

With UK and international support, significant developments have been made in strengthening Afghan democracy since 2001. Our funding has been used to help strengthen institutions, finance the electoral process and build Afghan civil society and political participation. Notable achievements since 2001 include nationwide democratic presidential and parliamentary elections and the ratification of a new constitution.

We have already given £16.5 million to support the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to prepare for the presidential and provincial council elections that will be held on 20 August 2009. Parliamentary and district council elections are due in 2010. International funding and support for the 2009-10 elections is being co-ordinated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as part of its Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (ELECT) project.

UK financial support is complemented by ongoing political engagement by British Ministers and embassy officials—encouraging change; raising concerns with the Afghan Government; lobbying internationally for support; and working through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s International Security Assistance Force to support thorough Afghan-led security for the elections.

Voter registration, which started in October 2008, has now been completed by the IEC across Afghanistan. We are pleased the process went according to plan, with over 4 million new names being added to the existing voter registry. The fact that the insurgents failed to disrupt the process is a credit to all involved, particularly the Afghan National Security Forces.

Candidate registration for Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential elections closed on 8 May 2009. 44 candidates registered in total, including two women. The next stage involves the Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) investigating any challenges to these candidates. The ECC will receive complaints between 16 and 21 May 2009, and after making their investigations, they will notify the IEC if any candidates have been disqualified.

For a more detailed overview of the evolution of the current Afghan political system, and examples of what the UK is doing to improve governance across the country, please see the following link to the recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office memorandum of evidence; submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee as part of their global security inquiry into Afghanistan:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/memo/afghanistan/ucgs0402.htm

For more information on the IEC, including legal and technical details regarding the electoral process and lists of candidates, see:

http://www.iec.org.af/engDefault.asp

More information on the UNDP’s ELECT project can be found at:

http://www.undp.org.af/WhoWeAre/UNDPinAfghanistan/Projects/dcse/pri_elect.htm