EU Welcomes Afghan Election Date Announcement

Posted October 31st, 2012 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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The European Union has welcomed Afghanistan's announcement that presidential elections will be held in April of 2014.

The EU's special representative to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, said Wednesday the decision to hold elections demonstrates Afghan authorities are fulfilling their duties in accordance with political commitments.

Usackas said the EU is supportive of “inclusive and transparent elections with a legitimate outcome.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is serving his second term and is constitutionally barred from running for re-election. Next year's vote is seen as a test of Afghanistan's young democracy, after the 2009 election was marred by allegations of voter fraud.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said the presidential poll, as well as provincial elections, will be held April 5, 2014. IEC head Fazel Ahmad Manawi urged insurgents — including the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami — to lay down their arms.

The presidential vote will take place as international combat troops continue their withdrawal ahead of a 2014 deadline.

Separately, Afghan officials said Wednesday two separate roadside bombs in the southern province of Helmand killed 11 civilians. The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, on Wednesday condemned roadside bombs, particularly those that cause casualties among children.

General Allen noted that Mullah Omar recently called on followers to avoid causing civilian deaths — accusing the Taliban leader of being “highly disingenuous.”