Meeting Afghan presidential candidates UN political chief urges unity pledges support

“I was here to reinforce the message to the two candidates, on behalf of the Secretary-General, to please move forward,” Mr. Feltman said after his separate meetings with the two candidates. “And if there are things we can do to help them, we’re willing to do it; but this, obviously, is an Afghanistan decision about Afghanistan’s future.”In a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr. Feltman said that he planned to report back to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that in both cases, Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah reaffirmed their commitment to try to get to a political agreement on a national unity government. The Under-Secretary-General stated that it is important, from the UN perspective, that the two candidates proceed with the political agreement for the government of national unity as “this is the best way to move forward,” in addition to following through on their public commitments to accept the audit results.The main phase of the UN-supervised audit of the 14 June presidential run-off election was completed on 4 September and the announcement of updated results is expected shortly. The exercise, run by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), has been unprecedented in scale and scope with more than 22,000 ballot boxes being individually opened and examined by electoral authorities and representatives of the candidates.Mr. Feltman stressed that the UN intends to remain an active and supportive partner of Afghanistan through its political and security transitions and well beyond. “We want to find new opportunities to help support the vision of a unified, secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said. read more

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European Parliament approves plan to cut Ireland from 12 MEPs to 11

first_imgUpdated, 12:33THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has approved changes to the number of MEPs each country will elect next year – meaning Ireland is set to lose one seat, from 12 to 11.MEPs in Strasbourg for the parliament’s monthly plenary session voted by 536 to 111, with 44 abstentions, to approve the reallocation of seats following the elections next June.The parliament currently has 754 MEPs, distributed between all 27 member states, but the entry of Croatia into the union this year – combined with the implementation of parts of the Lisbon Treaty, which limit the membership to 751 – means some countries must lose seats.11 of Ireland’s 12 current MEPs were among those to vote against the measure. Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley was absent.A chart shows the outcome of today’s vote in Strasbourg. A seating plan showing the seat of each MEP can be found here. Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell made a last-ditch attempt to stop the matter from being put to a vote today, saying the Constitutional Affairs Committee – which had formulated the proposals – had not taken any independent input.The Dublin MEP complained that Ireland had already lost one fifth of its representation in the parliament, having been gradually cut from 15 seats to 12, and that a further cut to 11 hit Ireland disproportionately hard.Mitchell was able to force a vote on whether to refer the matter back to that committee, for further input to be sought, but his proposal was comprehensively defeated.Speaking in advance of the vote, Fianna Fáil’s Pat the Cope Gallagher said he was “totally against” the reduction, which left Ireland’s workload “unmanageable”.“We have 11 MEPs to straddle over 20 committees in the parliament, and it’s not possible to do that,” he said.“It doesn’t seem fair for a country for a country like Ireland, with a population of 4.5 million, to have just 11 MEPs when we have countries with more MEPs who have a similar population,” he said.The measures are not guaranteed to take effect, as they must first be approved by the Council of ministers. A decision at that level is expected in the coming weeks.Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy in StrasbourgAnalysis: How will constituencies change now that Ireland’s losing an MEP?last_img read more

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