Election training for 35,000 Afghan police officers
31 May 2009 - A major programme is underway in Afghanistan to train 35,000 police officers in time for the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections.
Officers are being readied to tackle security threats and to provide the necessary cover to enable voters to come out confidently and cast their ballots, without fear, in large numbers.
The elections support project of the United Nations Development Programme in Afghanistan, UNDP/ELECT, together with the European Union’s Police Mission (EUPOL) and the Ministry of Interior are leading the efforts to train officers on their expected roles and responsibilities.
Today a two-day course started in Kabul to instruct police officers on the electoral process, Afghanistan’s election laws, international election standards and the police’s role in the process.
Initially, 350 officers from across the country are being trained in Herat, Kabul, Mazar, and Kandahar.
They in turn will pass on their skills to a further 35,000 officers.
EUPOL developed the training course’s curriculum.
“These trainers will go back to their districts and train 10 other stakeholders, who will in turn train 10 others. The reading material (for these 35,000 officers) will be flown into the provinces,” said Gerrit Jan van Gelder, the Deputy Head of EUPOL’s training component in Afghanistan.
One of the biggest challenges ahead is the high illiteracy rate among police officers, estimated at 80 per cent.
“The training methods being used are illustrative and the training itself is based on an oral transmission of information,” said Margie Cook, UNDP/ELECT’s Chief Electoral Adviser.
One of the 25 trainees at today’s Kabul course was Asmatullah, an Intelligence Officer, based in Laghman province.
He will be re-deployed in three days and assume the role of a trainer.
“The course so far has been useful and productive,” said Asmatullah. “We are here to serve the people. They should cast their votes fearlessly.”
“My message to the people is they should be active during the election and cooperate with the police. I want to assure everyone that the police are here to help and are ready to make sacrifices, so that citizens can cast their votes in a secure election,” said General Gul Nabi Admadzai, the Director of the Training Department at the Ministry of Interior.
“The police have a particular responsibility to help conduct elections and to create confidence, so that the people of Afghanistan can come out and vote,” said UNDP’s Margie Cook.
On 20 August Afghanistan goes to the polls for presidential and provincial council elections.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UNDP/ELECT project are supporting Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission in organizing the elections.
By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA