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UN-supported Afghan elections hotline proving very popular

UN-supported Afghan elections hotline proving very popular

Afghan police officers being trained for the 20 August 2009 presidential and provincial council elections
One of the hottest telephone numbers in Afghanistan right now is a toll-free election information hotline set up with help from the United Nations, according to the world body’s mission in the South Asian nation.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today that some 25,000 Afghans call the Independent Election Commission (IEC) every week to get information on the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections.

The IEC set up the call centre at the headquarters of the Roshan cellular phone company with assistance from the UN Development Programme’s election unit (UNDP/ELECT).

Thirty staff, who had 15 days of training from the IEC and UNDP/ELECT, answer calls in Dari and Pashto from across the country in three shifts of six hours each from six in the morning until midnight.

Most of the questions received are related to the election date, the candidates, the security situation, voter registration, polling centres and the logos of the candidates, UNAMA said.