Brussels: The European Union on Friday said it will send observers to monitor presidential and local elections in Afghanistan next month, as US-led NATO forces prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.
Thijs Berman, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, will lead a team of 15 observers for the polls at which President Hamid Karzai stands down after two terms, EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton said.
The elections "offer the opportunity of the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan`s history," Ashton said.
The EU observer team "will play its part in helping to ensure that the elections are as credible, inclusive and transparent as possible," she added in a statement.
The observers are being sent at the invitation of the Afghan government.
NATO forces plan to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, leaving a small assistance and training mission to help local forces keep Taliban rebels at bay.
There are concerns, however, that the Taliban are biding their time and will step up attacks sharply once NATO leaves after its longest ever military operation, launched in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States.