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Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

1. What discussions he has had with the Afghan authorities on the conduct of the forthcoming presidential election in that country. (282687)

I met the Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Spanta, in Trieste on Friday. Our embassy in Kabul is in regular dialogue with the Afghan authorities, particularly the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, which is running the first Afghan-led elections since the 1970s. We are also in close contact with the United Nations Development Programme, which is co-ordinating the international effort to support the election commission. In Helmand province we are working with the election commission, the governor and the Afghan national security forces to ensure credible elections on 20 August.

What reports has the Foreign Secretary received of fraudulent voter registration in the run-up to the elections, such as the mass registration of women in Nuristan?

My attention has not been drawn to the example that the hon. Gentleman has given, but the United Nations and other authorities have been as vigilant as possible in ensuring that the extra voters who have been registered—4 million or so have been registered, which is obviously a good thing—are indeed real voters. I understand that about 85 per cent. of people in Helmand province have been registered, and we are confident that the appropriate procedures have been followed there. However, if the hon. Gentleman has any particular evidence that he wishes to supply to me, I should be happy to have it.