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20 August 2009 - Elections in Afghanistan - Statement by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

I would like to hail the dignity, courage and determination shown by the Afghan citizens who went to the polls today.

Their vote, following an open election campaign, attests to the Afghan people’s resolve to build a peaceful, united, democratic Afghanistan, despite the difficulties.

I strongly condemn the acts of violence committed yet again today by those whose only aim has ever been to prevent the Afghan people from freely determining the conditions of their future. Fortunately, these events were on a much smaller scale than might have been feared.

In a context of war and terrorism, the level of participation observed, including that of many women, is a success in itself. It is to the Afghan authorities’ credit that, with UN support, they spared no effort to achieve this result. I would like to pay tribute to the ISAF soldiers without whom these elections never could have been held. These elections represent a political failure for the extremists.

The Afghan people have spoken; their choice must be respected. The counting of votes and the examination of any complaints or appeals must be carried out in the greatest calm and transparency, as we await the results. This responsibility falls upon the Afghan government and the candidates. Calm and dialogue must prevail.

We will be watching this closely. France will remain committed to the Afghan people and authorities to help them in their march toward Afghanistan’s stabilization and development.

The elections seem to have taken place in acceptable conditions; securing the country remains necessary and a political solution remains essential./.



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