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UN Expresses Concern At Afghan Political Situation

18 July 2004 -- The United Nations today expressed concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan, saying it could thwart the run-up to elections scheduled for later this year and early next year.

The agency says in a report on political rights in Afghanistan that "the increasingly tense situation in which elections are taking place is a growing concern."

Afghanistan is expected to hold a presidential election on 9 October and parliamentary polls in April of next year.

More than 800 people have been killed over the past year in attacks blamed on Taliban fighters. In regions where the former ruling militia remains active, only a tiny fraction of the population has registered to vote.

In Kabul, political parties are developing in a climate of free expression.

But the UN says this is far from being the case in other regions.

In the western Herat Province, for example, parties are forced to meet in hiding for fear of reprisal from local governor Ismail Khan.