INDEPENDENT NEWS

Afghanistan votes in historic election

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2005 08:19 AM
Afghanistan votes in historic election
Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has congratulated the people of Afghanistan for holding the country's first parliamentary and provincial elections in 36 years.
“These elections represent the last major step in the process agreed with the United Nations in 2001, for a new Afghan government following the expulsion of the Taleban regime.
“While there were security incidents during the election and some reports of voting irregularities and voter intimidation, on the whole the election has been very successful.
“I’m also pleased that voting in Bamyan province, where New Zealand’s Provincial Reconstruction Team is based, was largely without incident, although our team did intercede in one minor incident and ensured it ended without casualty.
“It is welcome news that the contribution New Zealand has made restoring peace and stability in Bamyan province allowed such a relatively free election to be held there.
“New Zealand has committed more than $110 million in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan since 2001, including measures to promote human rights and to establish, maintain and improve security and assistance with elections.
“We’re assisting with training for the civilian police force and the Afghanistan National Army. New Zealand also provided core funding for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which helped with election monitoring,” Mr Goff said.
About 50 percent of Afghanistan's 12 million registered voters (44 percent female) voted on 18 September. Almost 5800 candidates were standing – 2700 for the lower house of Parliament and 3100 for 34 provincial council seats.
Provisional results are due by 10 October with final results expected on 22 October.

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