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6/5/04 - DEVELOPMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN - 2004-06-07


Afghanistan will hold parliamentary and presidential elections in September. United Nations teams and Afghans will be registering voters in four-thousand-five-hundred places throughout the country. But security remains a concern.

Two-million-eight-hundred-thousand of Afghanistan’s seven to nine million eligible voters have been registered. Remnants of the Taleban and their terrorist allies are trying to disrupt the registration progress. Recently, two British election workers and their translator were killed while trying to register voters in remote Nuristan province.

William Taylor, the U.S. coordinator for Afghanistan, says that an Afghan police force will have primary responsibility for security during the elections:

“The United States is helping the Germans, who are in the lead on training police, and we and the Germans hope to have twenty-thousand police...freshly trained by this summer."

The new Afghan national army will also be available to help with election security. The Taleban remnants and other terrorists are trying to stop free elections from taking place in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush says they will not succeed:

“Reports from Afghanistan...are very encouraging. People who have been there last year and have been back this year report a different attitude. And women now all of a sudden no longer fear the future but believe that we’re there to stay the course and we will help a free society emerge.”

The upcoming elections in Afghanistan are just a beginning. The U.S.-led coalition’s long term goal is to help establish an Afghanistan that is self-reliant and secure. President Bush says, “A peaceful and free Afghanistan is essential...to encouraging the spread of democracy” in the region.

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