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UN concerned over killings in Afghanistan as key political milestones approach

UN concerned over killings in Afghanistan as key political milestones approach

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today voiced concern over a spate of recent murders carried out as the country was entering a critical phase of its political transition.

"We are deeply disturbed and profoundly regret that several people have been killed in recent weeks in Afghanistan," UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters in Kabul. "While there is no certainty that the motivation of these murders was political, in the minds of people these events are related to the current political process."

In another troubling development, the Independent Special Commission for the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, or tribal council, informed the UN on Monday that two delegates - Mohammad Rafiqi Shaheer, Head of the "shura" of professionals, and Abdul Latif, representative selected in the Adraskan district - had been arrested in Herat. "We are similarly concerned about the detention of Ghulam Farook who has been selected in Phase I [of the Loya Jirga process] in the district of Shindan" which is also in Herat, the spokesman said.

These developments come after a number of incidents of intimidation in the west, according to Mr. de Almeida e Silva, who voiced particular concern about death threats made by the chief of the Karukh district against the six people selected from that area. "These people have since decided not to participate in phase II" of the selection process, he noted.

The Independent Commission and the UN have expressed their concern about intimidation in Herat to the local authorities as well as the Interim Administration. "The rules of the Independent Commission allow it to proceed with the direct selection of representatives in those areas where conditions of freedom and fairness do not exist," Mr. de Almeida e Silva noted. "At the same time it is also the responsibility of the authorities and the political leaders of Afghanistan to ensure that the Loya Jirga process can conclude in conditions of fairness and transparency."

During the first phase, Afghans in the country's 381 districts are choosing between 20 and 60 representatives. In the second phase, district representatives meet at regional centres to select their delegates for the Emergency Loya Jirga. That process is being conducted through secret ballots and observed by the international community. The Loya Jirga itself is scheduled to start on 10 June.