(AFP) – Feb 5, 2009
LONDON (AFP) — Britain on Thursday pledged 10.6 million pounds in aid to help support Afghanistan's electoral process ahead of presidential elections in August.
The funds, aimed at helping support the Afghan Independent Election Commission's operations and educating citizens as to why elections and voting are important, are in addition to six million pounds already provided by Britain.
"Our support will also help the efforts to enable and encourage women's participation in the elections and educate voters," said International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander.
"Democracy is a powerful weapon against the Taliban (Islamist militia group) which is why they are so opposed to free and fair elections."
Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi, Afghanistan's finance minister for several years, on Thursday became the first high-profile candidate to officially throw his hat into the ring for the presidency.
President Hamid Karzai has vowed to run for a second term, while former interior minister Ali Ahmadi Jalali and Ahadi's predecessor as finance minister, Ashraf Ghani, are tipped as the main challengers to Karzai, but have yet to officially announced their candidatures.
Britain has around 8,300 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in the restive southern province of Helmand battling an insurgency mounted by the Taliban.
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