Thursday, August 20, 2009

HM Ambassador to Kabul Mark Sedwill blogs on today’s elections

HM Ambassador to Kabul Mark Sedwill

Afghanistan is at the polls. Thousands of polling stations opened across the country early this morning. As I write, millions of Afghans are voting to decide who should lead their country for the next five years.

I was out and about this morning and was able to visit a few polling stations. First thing it was quite quiet and I think the city was holding its breath, but we’re beginning to see people turning out in encouraging numbers and voting.

The insurgency has tried to derail these elections. But in terms of violent incidents, so far, I think we’re at the lower end of what people expected. We should also remember that the fact that they are happening at all is hugely important and reflects the considerable efforts of the Afghan institutions that have lead the planning for today. These elections are the next milestone towards a stable and secure Afghanistan , one that is able to deny safe haven to the terrorists who threaten both them and us. The priorities for the next Afghan government should be clear: tackle security, corruption and governance and deliver for ordinary Afghans – see the Foreign Secretary's article in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph.

As the Foreign Secretary said in his speech at NATO HQ on 27 July, if there is to be lasting stability in Afghanistan , ordinary Afghans must feel they have a stake in their country’s future. Today is their chance to have their say in shaping that future.

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