Statement by Minister Cannon on Today’s Parliamentary Elections in Afghanistan

(No. 303 - September 18, 2010 – 1:45 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the 2010 elections to the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the National Assembly in Afghanistan:

“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to congratulate the people of Afghanistan for exercising their fundamental democratic right to vote in these important elections—the first Afghan-led parliamentary elections since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Of note is the significant number of Afghans who have helped to run and supervise these elections, including 292,000 national party agents and observers, and some 86,000 staff employed by the Independent Election Commission across the country.

“These elections took place under difficult circumstances and ongoing security challenges in parts of the country. The message sent by those who courageously took part in these elections is clear: opponents of progress in Afghanistan will not deter the will of Afghans to see their country emerge as a more peaceful, democratic and self-sufficient society.

“Canada strongly condemns the violence that occurred today as Afghans participated in these parliamentary elections.

“The cowardly acts of violence illustrate the complete disregard that opponents of progress and democracy in Afghanistan consistently demonstrate for the lives of Afghans. The perpetrators of these acts will not dissuade Afghanistan and the international community from their common resolve to build a better future for Afghans.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend our deepest sympathies to those whose loved ones were victims of today’s attacks.

“Canada commends the Afghan National Security Forces for their efforts today and in the days and weeks leading up to these parliamentary elections. These efforts demonstrate the growing capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces to provide a more secure environment for Afghan citizens.

“Canada recognizes the complexity of the electoral process, and we support the ongoing efforts of both the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission to ensure the continued transparency of the electoral process.

“Canada is engaged in Afghanistan at the request of the democratically elected Afghan government, and as part of a UN-mandated, NATO-led mission. Canada’s continuing objective is to help Afghans build a stable and secure country based on the fundamental values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

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