Disarmament accelerated as elections approach
Kabul, September 22, 2004 - Tens of thousands of ex-combatants will be disarmed by the UN-backed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program before the October elections, according to officials at the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The multi-million dollar Afghanistan's New Beginning Programme (ANBP) is designed to disarm more than 100,000 former fighters. Fewer than 20,000 members of the militia forces have been decommissioned since disarmament was launched last October. But MoD officials are optimistic that through an "accelerated DDR plan" they will meet the pre-election target of 40,000 disarmed soldiers in less than a month's time.
Meanwhile, according to the MoD, political parties have been told to cooperate with the disarmament program or they will not be registered. According to a spokesman, more than 70 parties had applied for registration at the MoD but only 41 had been granted a license.
The United Nations in Kabul has expressed optimism over DDR progress achieved in the last two weeks. According to UNAMA, 1,400 men were disarmed in a single week - about 10 per cent of the total disarmed in the last 10 months.