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UN: Security Council Told Afghan Security Inadequate

United Nations, 28 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A senior United Nations official has repeated concerns that the authority of Afghanistan's interim administration continues to be threatened by insecurity throughout the country.

The UN's undersecretary-general for political affairs, Kieran Prendergast, told the UN Security Council yesterday that existing security structures in the country are inadequate.

He said threats to the interim government are likely to increase as the emergency Loya Jirga, set for June, approaches. "The question of security continues to be the foremost concern and the manner in which it's addressed by the international community and the Afghans together may well determine in the very near future the success or not of the Bonn process."

The Bonn process, which established the interim authority, provided a blueprint for Afghans to be eventually represented by a broad-based, multiethnic government. That would follow more than 20 years of civil war and devastation that wrecked the country's infrastructure and society, and permitted the takeover by the Taliban militia and the operations of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Prendergast told the council yesterday that Afghan citizens have responded in an overwhelmingly positive way to the Bonn process. He said that includes their support for the efforts of interim leader Hamid Karzai and their participation in the commission responsible for setting up the Loya Jirga. The Loya Jirga, or tribal council, will be responsible for setting up a transitional authority to govern Afghanistan.

"It's all too easy to forget that this is the first time in many, many years that ordinary people have had a chance to express themselves; previously their voice had been stifled by war or by oppression or by both. They are signaling a strong and clear desire for the Bonn process to work and for those who are resisting it or undermining it to cease doing so."

Prendergast said in addition to security concerns, the country's political process could be undermined by failure to provide regular salaries to civil service workers. He said the payment of the salaries of public servants in January and February through donations made to the UN helped bolster the legitimacy of the new administration.

But he said more donations are needed immediately to maintain these payments. "Without these millions being available today, the billions pledged in Tokyo may be of much less use. The preliminary authority needs bread today more than the promise of cake tomorrow." The council met in private after Prendergast's briefing.

The council has so far authorized only the 4,500-member international force that has been deployed in the Kabul area.

A number of European states, as well as Turkey, India, and others, are discussing increasing their contribution to the force if the council permits a more expanded deployment.

Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi have recently urged the council to approve an expanded force.