The Commission approved today a further €9 million package to support the elections in Afghanistan. The funding will support the Elections Project managed by the United Nations (UN), to which the European Union (EU) is the biggest single donor. Taken with previous contributions donated towards the preparation of these elections (voters’ registration) today’s announcement brings the European Commission contribution to €24 million, and when Member States’ donations are added, the total EU funding for the entire elections process reaches almost €80 million. Following the successful adoption of the new Constitution on January 4 2004, the holding of Presidential elections – now scheduled for October 2004 – is the next important milestone for Afghanistan on its road to a democratic future as set out in the Bonn Agreement.
Afghanistan has no tradition of democratic elections, and there is a lack of local experience and expertise. Providing the necessary personnel, materials and security is an enormous challenge, and substantial support from the International Community is necessary.
The Elections Project will provide support for election polling, and is in addition to the Voters Registration Project which is in its final stage of implementation. Both projects are being managed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) at the request of President Hamid Karzai.
The Elections Project will provide up to US $100 million, for the joint Afghan and Un Electoral Management Body (JEMB) to prepare and organise election polling. The project encompasses voter information campaigns, which will particularly target women, so far excluded from political decision making, as well as aiming to ensure all candidates are able to access media and to build the capacity of national election monitors. In addition, the Commission is deploying a Democracy and Election Support Mission to support the EU in assessing key aspects of the electoral process.
The funding announced today is part of the substantial assistance which the European Commission is making available to Afghanistan from Europe’s Community Budget, which is consistently outstripping the levels promised at the Tokyo Donors’ Conference. Having promised €400 million for 2003-4, the EC spent €300 million in 2003, and plans to commit around €245 million in 2004.
For further information:
The EU’s relations with Afghanistan – Overview