U.N., major powers warn Afghanistan over election

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The United States and United Nations on Tuesday warned Afghanistan that ensuring a credible presidential election next year would be “critical” to maintaining international support after 2014.

The warnings came amid growing tensions between President Hamid Karzai and the United States and the NATO-led international force which is due to leave Afghanistan next year.

“An inclusive and credible presidential election in 2014 is critical for the country's future and to sustaining international assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice said.

“The results of this election must produce an outcome that is legitimately accepted by the Afghan people,” Rice told a council meeting on Afghanistan.

“It is important that respected and professional leaders are appointed to election institutions after a widely consultative process.”

Afghanistan's election commission has announced a presidential election for April next year and Karzai has repeatedly said he will step down after two terms, but diplomats have expressed fears about the organization of the vote.

“Broad participation and a credible process are essential to reaching the goal of a widely accepted leadership transition,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the meeting.

Australia is currently coordinating Security Council action on Afghanistan and also has a large presence in the international force.

“We must send a clear message that Afghanistan will not stand alone,” said Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr, but added that the presidential election would be “vital”.

“As these elections near, it is critical the Afghan government set up an appropriate electoral framework. The government must lead the way to inclusive elections which are accepted by the Afghan people,” said Carr.