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9/9/04 - AFGHAN ELECTION  - 2004-09-10

The presidential election campaign is underway in Afghanistan. On October 9th, the more than ten-million Afghan men and women who are registered to vote will choose from among eighteen candidates, including one woman.

All candidates have access to state-owned media and can campaign and hold rallies throughout the country. A candidate must win fifty-one percent of the vote, or a run-off election would be held in November. Majnoon, a gasoline vendor in Kabul, told the Reuters news service that he hopes “this election will bring peace and security.”

But remnants of the ousted Islamic extremist Taleban regime are trying to disrupt the election campaign. These terrorists have launched attacks against those involved in the election process. Filippo Grandi is the United Nations deputy special representative for Afghanistan:

“There continues to be intimidation, especially in the south and southeast and east, linked to the offensive of those who want to destabilize the process by creating a climate of insecurity and also by intimidating voters.”

President George W. Bush says that the United States and many other countries are standing with the people of Afghanistan as partners in their quest for stability and democracy:

“The forces of many nations are working hard with Afghans to find and defeat Taleban remnants and eliminate al-Qaida terrorists. We’re helping to build the new Afghan national army, and to train new Afghan police and border patrol. Together, we will maintain the peace, secure Afghanistan’s borders, and deny terrorists any foothold in that country.”

Parliamentary elections will be held in 2005. “The road ahead for Afghanistan is still long and difficult,” says President Bush. “Yet, the Afghan people can know that their country will never be abandoned.”