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President Obama Welcomes Afghan Presidential Election Season

In a statement released on June 17, President Barack Obama welcomed the start of the Afghan presidential election season. The election, scheduled for August 20, will be the second in the country's history. Some 40 candidates have announced their candidacies for the country's highest elected office.

According to the Independent Election Commission, a voter registration process that took place between October 2008 and March 2009 added 4.5 million voters to then rolls, bringing the total electorate to over 16 million people.

President Obama's statement read:

"I congratulate the Afghan people on the start of your official election campaign period. On August 20 this year, the people of Afghanistan will choose a President to lead your nation, and also elect provincial councils to represent you locally.

The successful Presidential candidate will have a full agenda and high expectations. Afghan institutions must better serve the people. There must be full accountability and transparency, so that Afghans can see where their money is spent. Fighters who are ready to lay down their arms and embrace peace must be reintegrated. And Afghanistan needs to work with all her neighbours to promote security and opportunity in the region. In all of these efforts, Afghanistan’s next President will have a partner in the United States.

Each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. The United States does not support or oppose any particular Presidential or Provincial Council candidate. Instead, we support the right of the people of Afghanistan to choose their own leaders. That is why we are working with Afghan electoral authorities and the United Nations to help Afghans ensure a credible, secure, and inclusive election process in which all candidates have fair access to media, can freely travel and campaign, and are comfortable with the integrity of the ballots cast on election day.

The United States seeks an enduring partnership with the Afghan people, not with any particular Afghan leader. That partnership will be dedicated to enabling the newly elected President and other officials to deliver governance, security, justice and economic opportunity to all Afghans. That is the future that the Afghan people deserve, and that is the future that we will seek with the successful candidates and the people who elect them."

Related News: Millions of Afghans Register to Vote in Presidential Election (RFE)

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