3 January 2010The international community must demilitarize its overall approach in Afghanistan to ensure sustainable gains in the political and humanitarian realms, the outgoing top United Nations envoy to the South Asian nations said today. “We have to get into a mode where our strategy is politically driven and not militarily driven, where the political and civilian components become an appendix to a military strategy,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said in the capital, Kabul. He will address the Security Council this week for the last time as the world body’s top official in Afghanistan on what he expects in the coming months for the country. One of the top objectives of the influx of troops this year is to boost the Afghan military’s capacity, he told reporters today. “I am deeply skeptical [of] a situation where we have an increase of military forces and that increase of military forces engages in political, civilian and humanitarian issues,” Mr. Eide said, stressing that an increased number of forces means that they try to demonstrate “quick results.” But, he emphasized, “quick impact very often becomes quick collapse.” Afghanistan’s Government must initiate a peace process based on compromise as swiftly as possible, the envoy said, adding that participation by insurgents will increase the prospect of gradual troop withdrawals. He also said that while he respects the Independent Election Commission’s decision to follow Afghanistan’s constitution by holding parliamentary elections as early as May, he voiced concern over the limited time available to hold the polls, especially since last year’s presidential and provincial council elections were marked by fraud and insecurity. “For me… it is important that a real reform process takes place before the next elections,” the Special Representative said. This weekend, Afghan politicians rejected most of the names put forward by President Hamid Karzai for his new cabinet, and Mr. Eide called this a “political setback, in the sense that it prolongs the situation without a functioning government.” Later this month, an international conference on Afghanistan – the result of a joint European proposal by the United Kingdom, France and Germany – will be held in London, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has characterized as a “a very timely” opportunity to discuss the country’s agenda in the wake of the presidential elections which re-elected Mr. Karzai after his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the run-off round. Another high-level conference is also scheduled to be held in Kabul in several months.
The 15-member body issued a presidential statement in which it also reiterated its concern about the deteriorating security situation in the Sudanese region of Darfur, warning that the ongoing conflict there could destabilize neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) even further.Deputy Permanent Representative Jamal Nasser al-Bader of Qatar, which holds this month’s Council presidency, said its members called on both Sudan and Chad to abide by all agreements to respect and secure their common border and to cooperate on making it as stable as possible.Warning that Chad is home to a large number of refugees – the UN estimates there are more than 265,000 people from either Darfur or the CAR living there – Mr. al-Bader said the country’s authorities and local communities were already facing a heavy burden.The increased military activities by armed groups therefore jeopardized the humanitarian lifeline offered by UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups.The statement said Council members condemned the recent offensive carried out by armed groups around the eastern Chadian town of Biltine and in the Ouaddei area, adding that “any attempt to seize power by force is unacceptable.”Council members backed an earlier statement by the African Union (AU) that the attacks were blatant violations of the AU’s founding principles, which recognize the territorial integrity and unity of member States.Mr. al-Bader stressed “the importance of an open political dialogue based on constitutional provisions to foster national reconciliation and durable peace in the country.”Turning to Darfur, he said a peaceful settlement in that region – where more than 200,000 civilians have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes amid often brutal fighting between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups since 2003 – would have a positive flow-on effect to Chad and the CAR.The statement added that any deal should follow the principles of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), signed in May by the Government and only some of the rebel groups.