HC Deb 20 October 2003 vol 411 cc380-1W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the cross-departmental drug strategy to help Afghanistan achieve the target of eliminating poppy production within the next 10 years; and what plans he has to fulfil the role of international lead on counter-narcotics co-ordination in Afghanistan. [131772]

Mr. Rammell

The UK is the lead nation on Counter Narcotics (CN) in Afghanistan and has a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target to contribute to a reduction in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan by 70 per cent. in five years and by 100 per cent. in 10 years. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UK have worked with the Afghan Transitional Administration to help them produce their National Drug Control Strategy.

The UK has developed a plan of activities to support the Afghan authorities in implementing their Strategy, including law enforcement, institution building, drugs demand reduction and alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers. Progress is monitored by stakeholders across Government.

As the lead nation, the UK is contributing £70 million over three years and posting additional personnel to Afghanistan to lead this work. It is also planned to hold a counter-narcotics conference in January 2004 in Kabul, involving Afghan and international representation, to encourage further support for the delivery of this project.

Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the timetable is for elections in Afghanistan. [127138]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

Under the Bonn Agreement, national elections are due to be held by June 2004. On 24 September in New York, President Karzai announced that the presidential elections will be held in June, in keeping with the Bonn Agreement, but that the parliamentary election will have to come later. However a firm timetable has yet to be agreed.

Voter registration has already started under the auspices of the United Nations, with priority being given to remote areas that will be inaccessible during winter months. Registration is scheduled to conclude in May 2004. An Interim Electoral Commission and a Joint Electoral Management Body were appointed on 26 July to begin preparations for the 2004 ballot. The Interim Electoral Commission will hand over to an independent Electoral Commission before the ballot next year.

Forward to