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Afghanistan calls for election support

Published By United Press International
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The United Nations said it was responding to a request from the Afghan Independent Election Commission for assistance.

The IEC stated it was calling on the United Nations to undertake "as soon as possible" a needs-assessment mission for Afghanistan given the preparations needed for next year's vote.

A four-member U.N. team arrived Friday in Kabul for a 10-day visit to assess Afghanistan's electoral needs.

"The purpose of the needs-assessment mission is to assess the electoral environment and make recommendations on the nature of future U.N. support to the elections, which will be Afghan managed and Afghan led," a statement from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan read.

Widespread allegations of fraud in favor of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2009 prompted former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah to withdraw from a second round of voting in his challenge against the incumbent.

Afghan forces are taking a greater role in security operations in the country as international forces wrap up their mission.

Jan Kubis, U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council last month that development benchmarks for Afghanistan are at risk, however, "because of weak and inadequate systems of sub-national governance, lack of support from the central level, capacity constraints and insufficient planning on the civilian side."
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