Security will be a key challenge to Afghanistan's parliamentary
elections next month, warns the top United Nations envoy in the country.
"We all know that security challenges will be a significant obstacle and we must ensure that poor security in parts of the country is not used to manipulate the votes of the people," said a statement from Staffan de Mistura, the secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan.
His statement cites increasing violence in parts of Afghanistan as cause for particular concern. Three candidates have been killed during campaign season, according to de Mistura. He notes that as campaigning has become more active ahead of the vote on September 18, so has violence and intimidation leveled against candidates, particularly female candidates.
The special representative's statement also detailed work the Independent Election Commission (IEC) is doing to prepare for the election. All of the ballot papers have been received. The IEC is reviewing security plans for polling stations around the country to make sure the final list of stations is realistic. The IEC should have this review completed by August 15, with a view toward making the list public on August 18.
The statement also says Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior is recruiting, training and deploying additional female security at women's polling stations.
De Mistura encouraged both national and international election
observation missions. His statement called on individual candidates to register themselves and their party agents, in order to watch the electoral process and report on irregularities.
The IEC operates under the authority of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Its mission, according to the UNAMA website, is to help lay the foundations of sustainable peace and development in the country.