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Afghanistan: UN envoy hails appointment of new governors in troubled western provinces

Afghanistan: UN envoy hails appointment of new governors in troubled western provinces

The senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today hailed the appointment of new governors in the troubled provinces of Herat and Ghor and underscored the importance of reconciliation ahead of elections scheduled for next month.

“The United Nations stands ready to assist the administration and civil society in Herat and neighbouring provinces during this sensitive period,” Jean Arnault, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said in a statement.

Tension in the area erupted in March with the killing of the Minister for Aviation and Tourism, who was the son of Governor Ismael Khan. The ensuing clashes between the forces of Ismael Khan and the 17th Division left a heavy toll, and violence flared further in the provinces of Ghor and Badghis in the months that followed.

Protracted instability in Ghor hampered voter registration in that province, which has one of the lowest enrolment figures in the country, according to UNAMA.

“The latest cycle of violence in Shindand and other districts in August showed clearly the potential for the conflict to spin out of control and jeopardize the stability of the entire region,” Mr. Arnault warned, pointing out that the clashes were contained thanks only to the Afghan National Army.

The appointment of the two new governors “offers an opportunity to prevent further fighting; to reassure the population; and to ensure the peaceful preparation of the upcoming presidential election,” the envoy said.

“The new governors should address with impartiality the root causes of the conflicts; promote a fair investigation into allegations of human rights abuses, in particular during the fighting in Shindand; and allow justice to be served,” he stressed.