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Afghanistan: EU Announces More Financial Support for Afghan Elections

  • Ahto Lobjakas

http://gdb.rferl.org/1F35EE8D-7CE2-4CEE-96D0-54982C4B799C_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/1F35EE8D-7CE2-4CEE-96D0-54982C4B799C_mw800_mh600.jpg The European Union on 29 July announced another contribution to support the Afghan presidential elections scheduled for 9 October. This, say officials, means the EU will pay half of the total bill. However, security concerns mean the EU will stick by its decision not to send an observer mission.

Brussels, 30 July 2004 -- The European Commission on 30 July added another 9 million euros ($10.9 million) to its overall fund package to support the upcoming elections in Afghanistan.

The commission says this takes its contribution to 24 million euros. The total EU contribution, with the member states' donations added too, reaches 80 million euros.

Emma Udwin, an external-affairs spokeswoman, pointed out this means the EU will cover roughly half of the costs associated with the elections.

"We have a further allocation for the Afghanistan elections," Udwin said. "The [European Commission] plus member states is basically funding half of what's required for the two main projects. There's the registration project registering voters in Afghanistan, and now the elections project for polling day itself."

An EU official confirmed on 29 July that the bloc will stand by its earlier decision not to send its own mission to observe the elections. The official said the EU was not aware of any international organization or country intending to field full-scale observer missions.
The EU will send a "Democracy and Election Support Mission" to assist representatives of EU member states and the commission in assessing key aspects of the electoral process.


The EU source said the dominant feeling within the bloc was that security fears will make the full conduct of such a mission "very, very difficult." Normally, the EU mission would arrive weeks before polling day. It would expect to travel freely across the country and follow the campaign, as well as observe the vote itself.

The official said the need for constant military protection would limit a mission to an extent that it could damage the EU's reputation when it comes to observer missions.

The EU will instead send a "Democracy and Election Support Mission" to assist representatives of EU member states and the commission in assessing key aspects of the electoral process.

The official indicated the EU would not judge the results by full international standards. Instead, the bloc will consider the poll a success "if the outcome is deemed broadly fair by those who voted."

The official said the EU takes heart from latest voter-registration figures according to which up to 8 million of the total of 10.5 million eligible voters have been registered. Another cause for optimism is said to be the number of registered female voters: 41 percent.
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