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IDLG Director Popal Visits Washington

Mr. Jelani Popal, the director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), visited Washington on October 2-3 and met with various senior officials to discuss governance issues in Afghanistan.

While in Washington, he met with Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Richard Boucher, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Mr. John Walters, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Ms. Henrietta Fore, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, Special Advisor to the President on Iraq and Afghanistan General Douglas E. Lute and others.

Mr. Popal also spoke at en event hosted by the U.S. Institute for Peace titled "The Future of Governance in Afghanistan." During the event, he spoke of efforts by the Afghan government to expand its legitimacy, support and competence. According to him, one of the central aspects of this effort was empowering local communities to become more engaged in governance issues "by moving decision making from Kabul to the provinces, from the provinces to the districts and from the districts to the villages." Mr. Popal also added that the Afghan government must work to diminish indifference that might exist towards it. Peace, he noted, was not the absence of war, but the bringing of hope and optimism to the Afghan people.

Created by President Hamid Karzai in 2007, the IDLG is an agency that seeks to extend the national government's reach and increase its legitimacy by improving governance at the local and provincial levels. Mr. Popal is charged with overseeing the performance of the governors of the 34 provinces and other local officials and make changes if needed. The IDLG is currently focusing on 11 key provinces, with a goal of reaching the remaining provinces in the coming years. Mr. Popal has been focusing on accountability, transparency and efficient public services.

Related News: To Sideline Taliban, Afghan Agency Extends Government's Reach (NYT)

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