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UN Hails Afghan Election - 2004-10-12


The U.N. Security Council has hailed Afghanistan's election as a milestone in the country's political process. A preliminary U.N. assessment indicates the election was well run.

Undersecretary-General Hedi Annabi Tuesday called the presidential vote a "special event that augurs well for the journey of the Afghans toward a vigorous democracy."

Briefing the Security Council, Mr. Annabi said it is a tribute to Afghan voters and security forces that fears of violence failed to materialize.

He cautioned that attacks are still possible during the vote-counting process, which could take as long as three weeks.

He also noted that opposition forces had filed many charges of irregularities, including allegations that poll workers were instructing people to vote for President Hamid Karzai.

But he said complaint mechanisms were working. He noted that two senior U.N. elections experts will be joined by a European Union representative to fully investigate all fraud allegations.

The deadline for filing fraud complaints passed Tuesday evening.

After the briefing, the president of the Security Council, British Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry, hailed the vote as a milestone. But he cautioned that the bigger challenge of holding parliamentary elections lies ahead.

"The Security Council calls upon the Afghan authorities to plan and carry out without delay inclusive parliamentary elections and calls upon the international community to support them in completing the electoral process set out in the Bonn agreement," he said.

The U.N. also urged the international community to pitch in to assist Afghanistan in assuming its rightful place in the community of nations. Diplomats say the United States will urge reluctant European allies to help expand NATO peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan at a meeting of defense ministers beginning Wednesday.