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Afghan Minister Calls for Continued Foreign Help


Afghanistan's foreign minister has praised his country's recent successful legislative elections. But he says the elections are just another step on a long road.

In a speech in Washington, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said the international community should not forget Afghanistan just because it held parliamentary elections.

Talking to an audience at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, Mr. Abdullah said Afghanistan must battle the mistaken perception that his country's problems are now solved.

"The challenge of maintaining support from the international community from the region, from the wider region, and from the international community as a whole - this will be our next challenge for the years to come because there will be perceptions that, yes, Afghanistan has succeeded, now it has its parliament, the election, its presidential election, its constitution - what else?", said Minister Abdullah.

The legislative elections were held September 18th. A little more than 50% of Afghanistan's eligible voters cast ballots. Mr. Abdullah attributed the turnout, which was lower than last year's presidential election, to a complex system that had voters scanning a multi-page ballot to make their choices.

Remnants of the Taleban threatened to disrupt the polls, but there were only a few scattered attacks. Mr. Abdullah said voters defied the threats by remnants of the Taleban and came out to vote.

"As the people in government, the people in charge of governance in that country, we might have made a lot of mistakes throughout. But the people did not," said Minister Abdullah. "They made the right choices in different moments."

Mr. Abdullah said Afghanistan still has many hurdles to clear as it struggles to rebuild after some 30 years of war, Soviet occupation, and Taleban rule. He said thousands of Afghan refugees are returning to a wrecked homeland.

"So in every success story that you hear lies a challenge within another challenge which has to be tackled, which has to be addressed. And hopefully with the continuation of the support from the international community, one day, sooner rather than later, Afghanistan will be able to stand on its own feet," said Minister Abdullah.

Mr. Abdullah said the problems are so enormous that the government almost does not know where to start first.

The final results of the legislative elections are not expected to be known for several more weeks.

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