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Bruxelles, 30 August 2005 - Emma Bonino's presentation of the EU EOM at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The EU EOM is a mission of nearly a four-month duration, from early July to the end of October 2005. At this stage, the mission is 71-strong: 13 in the Core Team and 58 Long-Term Observers (LTOs). The Core Team consists of 13 persons, including the Chief Observer. A significant novelty is the position of Democratisation Expert who will produce a list of recommendations on the long-term prospects of the country, beyond the electoral process itself.  The LTOs operate in teams of two and their deployment is largely based on security and logistical considerations. They are currently covering 28 out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan, either being based there or through short visits. A week before Election Day, the EU EOM will be further enhanced by some 70 Short-Term Observers (STOs). Nearly 40 (including a delegation of the European Parliament) will travel from Europe and some 30 will be seconded to the mission by EU embassies and the EC Delegation in Kabul. That way, all the EU institutions and many member states will be represented in the EU EOM to Afghanistan. Last but not least, there will be observers from non-member states, Norway and Romania, a fact that underlines the all-European nature of this joint effort. Overall, on Election Day the mission will consist of up to 140 observers and will clearly be the largest single international observer group in Afghanistan. Other international observation missions will be deployed by the OSCE, the Asia Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), the US-based International Republic Institute (IRI) and embassies in Kabul. N.B. Further information is available on the EU EOM website " Security The security situation in Afghanistan has been tense over the last months. The main factors of instability are: (i) factionalism, in terms of ethnic/tribal/personal rivalry for political power; and (ii) insurgency, directed at the Afghan government, international presence and, to a lesser extent so far, the electoral process. Insurgents and factionalists are not considered a threat to the electoral process as a whole, but isolated attacks against opposing candidates and election personnel and infrastructure persist. The provinces of greatest security concern remained Kunar, Khost, Uruzgan and Zabul as well as remote districts of other provinces in southern and south-central Afghanistan. Assessments produced by security agencies in Afghanistan seem to underpin the view than an attention-grabbing attack close to Election Day cannot be precluded. Given these concerns, the EU EOM has prioritised the security of its members, the main measures being: Minimum Operational Security Standards (MOSS) in terms of accommodation and equipment; Close co-operation with security agencies in Afghanistan, such as the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) Security service, etc.; A “tracking system” on the movement of LTO Teams across the country; An Operations Room currently being set up at EU EOM headquarters in Kabul, in view of Election Day. The electoral process Following a clearly incomplete voter registration process in 2004, a voter registration update was carried this year, with some 1.7m new cards being issued. At the same time, the voter registration for returnees is still on-going and will end on 8 September, 10 days before Election Day. The total number of voters is expected to be well above 12.5m (44% of them women), but concerns are raised about a number of points: (i) voters still unregistered, (ii) multiple registration, (iii) many indications of proxy registration of female voters. On the other side of the “equation”, nearly 5,800 candidates in total (some 10% women) have been accepted for both the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of Parliament) and Provincial Councils, after a highly questionable vetting process. Of the more than 200 candidates suspected of retaining connections to illegal armed groups, all but for 11 have been included in the final candidates list. The final status of some 130 candidates is still under review and a decision in that respect is expected any day now. Worryingly, there have been reports of candidates being intimidated, and 3 candidates have been killed. It should be noted that female participation in the new institutions is ensured through reserved seats. As regards the election administration, the recruitment and training of polling staff is proceeding according to the tight timeline, and so is the distribution of electoral material, but voter education has produced less encouraging results so far. The Provincial Elections Commissions are being trained to act as first instance for complaints adjudication in situ, though they tend to refer to Kabul (the central Election Complaints Commission) all the complaints related to commanders/warlords. The official campaign period started on 17 August, but the country has been flooded with electoral posters for at least two months now. On the other hand, the electoral campaign has not been very lively so far and, when it does take place, it is carried out mostly along tribal and ethnic lines, without any programmes. As regards access to the media, all candidates are entitled to short slots on the radio and the television as well as to limited space in the printed media. However, given the large number of candidates, the fair allocation of air time on the media has been one of the most complicated issues. The provinces not covered by the EU EOM are present are Kunar, Nuristan, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Farah and Dai Kundi.

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