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Australia to provide $5m to support Afghanistan elections

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CANBERRA: The Australian Federal Government will provide $5 million to support Afghanistan elections in 2009/10. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement after returning from Afghanistan where he met with Australian troops deployed in the region.

Of the funding, $3 million will go towards helping the United Nations and Afghanistan Independent Electoral Commission (AIEC) set up a national voter registration camp to sign up more than two million voters.

The remaining $2 million will be used for electoral education programs run by the AIEC and the Asia Foundation, which has been providing electoral guidance and support to the Afghan people since 2005. “For the elections to be considered free, fair and credible, the international community needs to ensure that the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission is sufficiently resourced,” a statement from Mr Rudd’s office says.

“Ensuring there is broad and equitable participation by all Afghans, including women and displaced persons, is critically important for building the legitimacy and credibility of the election process.” Afghanistan will hold its presidential and provincial council elections in 2009, while parliamentary elections will be held in 2010.

In 2008-09, the Rudd government will provide a further $62 million in development assistance to Afghanistan.-SANA

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