The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has pledged two million euros in support for arranging parliamentary and regional elections in Afghanistan in autumn 2005. Owing to problems associated with the geographical distribution into municipalities, local elections are postponed until 2006. Member nations' voluntary contributions are being channelled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Finland has earlier supported election processes in Afghanistan in 2003 by granting one million euros for compiling statistics on households and one million euros for voter registration, and in 2004 by granting one million euros for holding presidential elections.
Efforts during the second stage of the election process concentrate on support for preparations and arrangements leading to elections for the Wolesi Jirga, or the parliamentary house of representatives, to be held on 18 September 2005. The UNDP coordinates the funds pledged by the UN member nations, which constitute a major share of financing for the elections. The project assists the work of Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission and the Joint Electoral Management Body in several sectors, namely: mobilisation and management of resources; operational support including additions and corrections to voter registers; collection and recording of votes; risk control and security; dissemination of information to, and education of, citizens; and support for international elections monitoring.
The total budget for Afghanistan's parliamentary elections is estimated at USD 148.6 million, a third of which is as yet not covered by payment pledges. The United Nations has set up a wide-scale elections support organisation; Paavo Pitkänen of Finland is the foreign head of elections for Faryab Province. Nomination of candidates for election is now completed and the period of appeal is in progress. Candidacy is invalid if the party has ties with military groups. At least one quarter of seats in the Wolesi Jirga will be held by women. The elections are direct candidate elections; no party ties can be declared in election material. A quota of seats has also been set aside for nomads .
Additional information: Counsellor Mikko Pyhälä, tel. + 358 9 1605 5523, and Project Assistant Sam Karvonen, tel. + 358 9 1605 5169, Unit for Asia and Oceania, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.