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Afghanistan - Mindre end 7 uger til valget
AFGHANISTAN: Election logistics challenge begins
IRINnews.org, 10. august 2005
Udfordringerne for den forenede FN-afghanske Management-enhed, der står for næste nåneds parlamentsvalg, er enorme. De logistiske opgaver vurderes til 10 gange så store som ved sidste års præsidentvalg. Valgmaterialer er nu på vej rundt i landet til de 26.000 afstemningssteder.
KABUL, 10 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - With less than seven weeks to next month's parliamentary elections, the UN-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) has begun the monumental task of distributing election materials throughout post-conflict Afghanistan.
"One of the greatest challenges we are facing this year is the actual size of the undertaking," James Grison, head of the support unit for JEMB, said on Wednesday in the capital Kabul. He added that compared with Afghanistan’s presidential elections last October, the parliamentary and provincial council elections slated for 18 September would prove particularly challenging in a variety of ways.
"The logistical task is around ten times the size of last year’s operation [for the presidential elections] and five times the complexity," he estimated.
Transport of polling cards and election materials to some 26,000 polling stations across Afghanistan was begun by JEMB early this week, with northeastern Badakhshan province being the first region to have its ballot papers in place.
Millions of ballots for Afghanistan’s 2005 autumn elections have been printed in Vienna, Austria and in the British capital, London. In an effort to prevent multiple voting, 140,000 bottles of special ink are being flown in from Canada to mark the finger of each voter when they cast their ballot.
According to JEMB, 14 Russian-made Antonov transport planes will deliver the ballot materials to Kabul, with 18 cargo planes continuing onward deliveries across the country. Further local distribution will be carried out by a variety of methods, including heavy cargo trucks. Nine helicopters will be deployed to areas where trucks cannot be used and in truly remote areas, donkeys will deliver balloting equipment.
"There are two types of materials we are dealing with this election: one is sensitive material like the ink and the ballots and the other is non-sensitive things like furniture, required to set up polling stations," said Grison.
In total, JEMB will be dealing with 40 million ballots, 135,000 ballot boxes, 140,000 bottles of ink, 150,000 voting screens, 403 mt of furniture for polling facilities and nearly 31,000 polling station kits.
"We are receiving materials when required and we have ample time to receive and distribute all of the items to the station level," Grison said. He added that up to 160,000 polling officials are currently being recruited who will be supervised by a further 6,000 field coordinators. Security at the polling stations will be maintained by 60,000 security guards.
Up to 6,000 Afghans have registered to stand in the autumn legislature and provincial council elections. According to the JEMB, of the 2,900 people who have already registered to run for the 249-seat Wolesi Jerga [lower house], nearly 350 are women. Afghan electoral law requires that at least 68 seats in the general assembly be reserved for women.
Election workers believe the country's difficult security situation and challenging topography will continue to make the task of ensuring free and fair elections a difficult one.
"Despite the challenge, we are sure that all of the polling materials will be in place for election day," asserted Grison.
Meanwhile, a continuing funding shortfall remains an issue that could endanger the internationally supported investment in September's parliamentary elections.
According to the JEMB, despite some new pledges, the electoral body is still faced with a shortfall of some US $19 million in funding for the organisation and supervision of the electoral process. The entire operation is estimated to cost the international community up to $149 million.