United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stressed the need for international assistance for Afghanistan to continue far beyond the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place this September. In a report presented to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that “a number of post-conflict peace building tasks have yet to be fulfilled, including the restoration of countrywide security, full resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons, the rehabilitation of key economic and social infrastructure and the establishment of functional State institutions across the country.”
Annan expressed concern that extremist elements in the country may take advantage of the “open political environment of the parliamentary elections” and that the threat should not be underestimated. He goes on to say “the disarmament of the Afghan militia forces remains insufficient to create a secure environment for parliamentary elections” because the problem of illegal armed groups has not been adequately addressed. Regarding reconstruction, Annan reports, “despite the gains over the past three years, the State institutions remain limited in their capacity to deliver economic and social services” citing that Afghanistan ranks 173 out of 178 nations on the UNDP human development index for 2004.
The parliamentary elections now scheduled for September have repeatedly been postponed due to security and logistical concerns. In his briefing to the Security Council on the Secretary General’s report, Jean Arnault, the top UN envoy to Afghanistan, stated that Afghanistan has only $40 million of the estimated $148 million that is needed to conduct the September elections.