Press Briefing by Ariane Quentier Senior Public Information Officer


Today’s guest speaker
Our guest today is Siphosami Malunga, Programme Manager for the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Justice Programme.

Heist here to talk about the upcoming National Justice Conference and the issues it will cover. UNDP, through its Justice Programme, has been working with the Government and the National Justice Institutions in supporting the reform of the justice sector.

Elections contributions
Awake ago, last Monday, we reported that over USD $31 million were still needed to fund the elections, and expressed concern that this gap may affect the on-going electoral preparations.

Since then, a number of donors have made fresh pledges mounting to USD $12 million. This includes USD $8 million, representing the third contribution of the US government towards parliamentary and provincial council elections.

In addition the following countries have also pledged funds: Denmark, Norway, and New Zealand. We are grateful to those governments that have responded to our appeal, and hope that their initiative will encourage other donors to make contributions and fill without delay the remaining funding gap of USD $19.4 million.

Reintegration and Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG)
Reintegration is progressing at a steady flow with 58,560 ex-combatants either having entered or completed the reintegration process.

The verification, destruction and consolidation of ammunitions are also ongoing throughout the country, and the Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) has assigned 8 Ammunition Survey Teams (AST) to the regions for the implementation of the program: Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Grades, Kandahar and Punisher.
To date we are speaking of almost 500,000 (488,664) boxed and over 1.5million (1,684,727) unboxed ammunitions, that have been surveyed.

In terms of the disbandment of illegal armed groups, ANBP has verified 8, 043 weapons, including 4,143 from candidates.

In addition to the missions the Joint Secretariat conducted in the field to meet provincial committee members and Governors, the Joint Secretariats also engaged in drafting an instruction to all provincial committee and Governors to review the disbandment process once it is in its main phase, namely when disbandment will not be linked with elections.

In this respect, with the campaigning period drawing closer, candidates should once again be reminded that anyone found to be in violation of the election law can be disqualified until the results are certified. In particular, all candidates must comply with the disarmament process, namely not engage in any activity implying links to illegal armed groups and not re-arm. The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) eventually has the authority to disqualify any candidate who re-establishes links to illegal armed groups or who is found to possess weapons. It will not hesitate to exercise this power, should it be required.

Mobile education theatre reaches record audience
The Sahara mobile educative theatre, has recorded a new record audience turnout this week with its play “New Hope”.

Aimed at improving awareness of the elections, the play was performed in front of nearly 35,000 people across Afghanistan over the last week.

Since the beginning of the awareness campaign in May 2005, the 7 theatre troupes have already performed in 23 provinces of Afghanistan. The main targets have been rural areas, where people have limited access to information on the upcoming elections.

This project is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through The Asia Foundation.