More peacekeepers needed for Afghan elections, says Nato

Nato has said that it needs at least another 3,600 troops for its mission in Afghanistan if September's elections are to run smoothly.

Returning from a visit to Kabul, Nato Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President and Defence and Security Committee Rapporteur, Pierre Lellouche warned that the NATO mission in Afghanistan was at a "critical juncture". He said that the increase in manpower was necessary or "[we] risk losing all that we have invested”.

Mr Lellouche was speaking following the conclusion of fact-finding trip by the Nato Parliamentary Assembly which met with commanders and Afghan political authorities.

The four-member delegation were "impressed" with progress made in the country over the past two years. But French MP, Mr Lellouche, stated that all key players highlighted the need for increased security beyond Kabul in advance of the September elections as required by the UN.

A better manned and equipped security presence would help permit proper voter registration in the countryside as well as progress in disarming the numerous militias still operating in Afghanistan.

He added: "Not only is it necessary to at least maintain ISAF at current levels by hopefully having Spain replace the Canadian contingent, but additional means are indispensable for the conduct of Afghanistan’s first-ever elections in September.

“It is clear that the Afghan people are sick or war and warlords. We can help them build a functioning peaceful state, free of warlords, private armies and massive drug trafficking, but we must act now.”


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