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UN Envoy Warns Violence Could Disrupt Afghan Polls

23 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The chief of the UN mission in Afghanistan has warned an upsurge in violence could disrupt Afghanistan's parliamentary polls next month.

UN envoy Jean Arnault told the UN Security Council that attacks in the south, southeast, and east of Afghanistan, if continued, could disenfranchise parts of the ethnic Pashtun population, which is dominant there.

"It is too soon to rule out attempts at causing major disruptions of the elections before, during, or after polling day. In addition, increased insecurity in the provinces along the eastern border is in itself a cause for concern for the elections in these areas," Arnault said.

The UN and Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission released a report yesterday saying extremist attacks have increased against candidates, election workers, community leaders, and military forces this summer.

A Taliban spokesman said this week that the insurgents would not attack polling stations on election day on 18 September. But he vowed Taliban fighters would try to disrupt preparations for the polls.