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    UNAMA chief stresses Afghan-led peace drive

    KABUL (PAN): The Afghan government should spearhead the ongoing reconciliation process in the country, the United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan said on Wednesday.

    At his maiden news conference as head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Jan Kubiš identified the country's development and stability as his top priority. 

    Appointed as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special representative on November 23, he assumed charge of office on Jan. 17, replacing Staffan de Mistura of Sweden.

    He would do all he could to promote the Afghan-led peace drive, strengthen the rule of law, link security and development and work on issues related to governance, human rights  and reforms, said Kubiš, who served as Slovakia's foreign minister from 2006 to 2009.

    Fully supportive of the peace campaign, the Afghans were tired of the decade-long war and desired lasting stability in their homeland, the top UN diplomat said.

    "What's more important and what I would like to underline is that the project is Afghan-owned and should be led by Afghans themselves," remarked the envoy, who graduated in International Economic Relations from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations,

    The diplomat urged all Afghan political factions and civil society to lend their weight to the peace effort. In particular, he stressed, the masses should participate in the campaign.

    Asked how the process could be called Afghan-led when key decisions were taken in Washington, the UN representative replied: "I don't agree with it, because all such decisions should be made in Afghanistan, not the US…"

    He viewed last year's Loya Jirga, the 2nd Bonn Conference, the presidential address to Parliament, US Special Envoy Marc Grossman's swing through the region and President Karzai's European trip as serious joint efforts at bringing stability to Afghanistan.

    "Our role in these endeavours is clear: we support the Afghan-led process," maintained Kubiš, who also announced the UN's backing for the High Peace Council.

    Born in Bratislava on November 12, 1952, the ex-executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe said the objective behind UNAMA's creation a decade back was to lay the foundation of a credible system of government.

    With regard to the 2014 presidential ballot, Kubiš announced the Afghans would conduct the election. However, he hastened to stress the vote must be democratic, transparent and in the interest of the nation. "Our role will be confined to technical support; as an international body, we support an independent and credible election."

    About the mismatch of perceptions between the UN and the US on security, the UN official said everyone knew that the law and order situation in Afghanistan was a cause for concern.

    "Unfortunately, suicide and terrorist attacks are a part of the life here. What is tragic is that suicide attacks are targeting civilians, including children and women," he continued.

    After full transition to the Afghan security lead, a process that would be completed by the end of 2014, the country would be able to attain economic self-sufficiency, hoped the UN's new representative, who has been the secretary-general of the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from 1999 to 2005.

    Reminded that the UN role in Afghanistan had recently been marginalised, he said: "During my assignment, I would like to support the Afghan government. My task is a supportive role. I'm a UN representative, not a viceroy," he concluded.

    Kubiš also served as chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 2007 to 2008 and as the European Union's special representative for Central Asia with office in Brussels. He has also been the UN chief's special representative for Tajikistan.

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