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$148 million needed to run Afghan parliamentary elections, UN tells donors

17 March 2005 Afghanistan's electoral authorities need some $148 million in funding to ensure that national and local parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year are conducted fairly and transparently, the United Nations has told a donor conference in the capital Kabul.

The United States has already announced it will contribute $12 million to help organize the polls for the National Assembly and the provincial Councils, Ariane Quentier, a spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told reporters today.

She said the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), the commission charged with preparing and conducting the elections, estimates nearly 8,000 staff will be needed in the lead-up to the polls, with a further 180,000 people required to work on or around the day of voting.

The JEMB is forecasting there will be as many as 10,000 candidates for the National Assembly - comprised of the lower house, or house of the people (Wolesi Jirga), and the upper house, or house of elders (Meshrano Jirga) - and the provincial councils. Up to 40 million ballots are expected to be distributed.

Yesterday's donor conference follows an earlier meeting between the JEMB and political party leaders about determining the most appropriate date this year to hold the elections.

The JEMB is comprised of four international election experts and the nine-member Afghan Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). After the elections are held, the IEC will assume full responsibility for the running of the country's future elections.

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