Top UN officials welcome inauguration of new Afghan parliament

Mr. Ban commended Afghan political leaders, and all who participated in the electoral process – voters, the electoral institutions, and both winning and losing candidates – for their contribution to Afghanistan’s democratic development.“The inauguration marks the end of the electoral process and the beginning of a period in which Afghan governing institutions must work together to solve the pressing problems that the country faces, putting aside the differences as any robust and vibrant democracy demands,” a statement issued by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson stated.The 249 members of the Wolesi Jirga were sworn in by President Hamid Karzai. The country’s second Parliament to be inaugurated since the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001 includes 69 women.“Today is a historic day for Afghanistan and for all the countries wishing and working with Afghanistan for its future,” Staffan de Mistura, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said following the inauguration ceremony.Tensions rose in the past week with more than 200 losing candidates holding a sit-in at the presidential palace and holding demonstrations to protest Mr. Karzai’s decision to open the legislature before a special tribunal had reviewed all allegations of voting irregularities. A political compromise led to today’s inauguration, while the courts will continue to investigate allegations of criminal fraud, according to UNAMA. Mr. de Mistura emphasized the significance of the Parliament being able to start its work, including approving the State budget, while “justice can continue to take its course.” 26 January 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top envoy for Afghanistan have welcomed the inauguration earlier today of the country’s new Parliament, which comes four months after the 18 September elections for the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house. read more