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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
H.E. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Ambassador and Philippine Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Phiippines to the United Nations
I commend your initiative of holding this open meeting on Afghanistan. We also thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Jean Arnault, for presenting the Secretary General’s report and for the comprehensive briefing on the preparations for the elections.
In less than four weeks, the Afghan people will once again exercise their right of suffrage, this time to vote in the crucial parliamentary and provincial council elections. We are pleased that the electoral process, apart from some funding problems, is on track. We are hopeful that, with lessons learned from last year’s presidential elections and with the full support of the international community, particularly the donor countries, the September elections will be successful and will achieve the objectives of the political agenda of the Bonn process.
My delegation welcomes the efforts being exerted by the government of President Karzai and the international community towards the holding of the parliamentary and local elections. Those elections will be significantly more complicated than the historic presidential elections conducted last year, and we are gratified that the Afghan people, with the help of the international community, are once more exhibiting their resolve to determine their political future through the process of democratic elections. It is important that international donors respond urgently to the appeal of the Secretary General to fill the funding gap to ensure that the preparations for the elections remain on track. The successful conduct of the elections depends to a large extent on the timely completion of the technical process.
One vital element that will determine the credibility and integrity of the coming elections is the security environment in which the elections are conducted. As with last year’s presidential elections, the security environment should ensure that the people are able to exercise their choice freely, without fear or intimidation.
The recent successes in some elements of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program contribute positively to improved security, such as the completion of the disarmament of illegal armed groups, the safe removal and cantonment of over heavy weapons and progress in the disbandment of illegal armed groups. However, recent acts of violence, attributed to increasing terrorist activities of Taliban, Al Qaida and other extremist groups, are cause for concern, particularly as they target election workers as well as civilians. Worse, not only are they now better organized, armed and funded, but they are now clearly aiming to destabilize the Afghan political situation. The challenge is to cut off the source of their funds.
Given that worsening security environment, we urge that the planned expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) be pursued urgently. We join the Secretary General’s call for ISAF countries to adopt common and robust rules of engagement to enhance its ability to respond to the more difficult situations that it is expected to encounter as it expands. We acknowledge the contribution of the United States forces, ISAF and the NATO peacekeeping operation in enhancing the security environment.
My delegation also wishes to highlight the Secretary General’s observation that “the completion of the political transition is a vital step, but this alone will not be sufficient for the establishment of lasting peace in Afghanistan”. It is indeed time for the international community to start considering a new framework for engagement with Afghanistan after the completion of the political process. The institutional agenda of the Bonn Agreement will now have to be pursued simultaneously with the reconstruction process.
The development of effective government institutions at the provincial and local levels will be crucial to ensure that the implementation of vital economic recovery as well as humanitarian and social protection programmes stream down to the population throughout the country. Those institutions will be vital in facing the challenges posed by the counter-narcotics implementation plan, including livelihood alternatives to poppy cultivation, development and rehabilitation projects to deliver basic services to the people, disaster-response mechanisms and measures to address the needs of the more than 3 million refugees that have returned to Afghanistan.
Clearly, sustained international support is needed in the coming post-electoral stage to achieve security, full disarmament, justice and a competent civilian administration in all provinces with a view to ensuring the development of those institutions. My delegation welcomes the clear identification by the Secretary- General of the key principles for further enhancing cooperation between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community.
Finally, we wish to pay tribute once again to the Afghan
people for their unwavering determination, in the face of great odds,
to resolve their political future. It is important that the international
community and the Security Council enhance Afghanistan’s ownership
of that political process.
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