Canada Troubled Over Reported Revisions to Afghan Electoral Law

(No. 78 – February 23, 2010 – 8:25 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

"While we have yet to receive the official translation of President Karzai's decree amending Afghanistan's electoral law, we are troubled by early reports that the decree could diminish the level of independence of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). A strong and independent ECC is vital for the future of a democratic Afghanistan, and any efforts to weaken this body are disturbing.

"I note that during the most recent election, the ECC, led by Canadian Grant Kippen, played a crucial role in efforts to have a credible election.

"For the good of all Afghans, it is essential that the significant problems encountered during the 2009 presidential election be addressed quickly and transparently to secure credible, inclusive and secure parliamentary elections later this year.

"Along with our international partners, Canada has been engaged in encouraging the Afghan government to implement the necessary electoral reforms ahead of the polls. Canada will be discussing this latest development with our allies.

"As I emphasized at the London Conference in January, the Government of Afghanistan has expressed its commitment to build on lessons learned in 2009 and ensure the integrity of the 2010 parliamentary elections."

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