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7/16/04 - AFGHAN ELECTIONS - 2004-07-16

A bomb exploded in Herat, in western Afghanistan. The explosion killed five civilians, including a twelve-year-old boy. More than twenty others were wounded. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, says that the attack was “the work of Afghanistan’s enemies who are desperately trying to derail Afghanistan from the path of reconstruction, peace and democracy.” Afghanistan is facing attacks by remnants of the former extremist Taleban regime, as well as by rival militias.

The Afghan election commission announced that a presidential election will be held on October 9th. According to news reports, at least a dozen candidates are expected to place their names on the ballot. Parliamentary elections are to take place in 2005.

Ali Jalali, Afghanistan’s Interior Minister, says that steps are being taken to ensure safe elections:

“During the elections, the police forces, the Afghan national army, the Afghan militia forces, coalition forces, and NATO are committed to provide security.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says, “Despite the threats and attacks by the Taleban, the Afghan people have a strong desire to exercise their democratic rights”:

“We think the elections will mark another major step in Afghanistan’s transition to a constitutional and representative government, and they constitute another milestone. We join the Afghan government in fully supporting the electoral body’s decision, and we’ll do our part to assist these historic elections.”

In Afghanistan, there will be “many more messy years to come,” says President Karzai, but “this is a country in the making.”