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Afghan elections will be challenging: British envoy

Last Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 10:47

London: The Presidential Elections in Afghanistan later this month will be "very challenging" but measures are in place to "mitigate" threatened disruption from Taliban forces, Britain`s Ambassador to Kabul said on Wednesday.
Mark Sedwill, speaking via videolink to a briefing at the Foreign Office in London, said the recent increased fighting in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan had guaranteed that about 70 percent of the people there would be able to vote.

"The circumstances are very challenging and we have to recognise that these elections are going to be pretty rough and ready in places," said Sedwill.

Between 15 and 17 million Afghans are registered to vote in the August 20 poll.

Sedwill said he believed that fewer Afghans would vote this year, compared with the previous election in 2004, but said this was a normal pattern in countries that had undergone internal conflict.

"Just the fact of these elections going ahead given the challenges is a success for the gradual process of putting down a democratic culture in Afghanistan," he said.

Sedwill said there would be "many, many more" polling stations than the 4,800 there were for the 2004 elections, and measures had been taken to reduce the possibility of ballot fraud.

Afghan police and soldiers would provide security at polling stations, with British troops available to respond to trouble if needed.

Asked about Taliban threats to disrupt the elections, Sedwill said, "We are well aware of the threat and the international forces and Afghan forces have preparations in place to try to mitigate it."


First Published: Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 10:47
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