November 6, 2009 in Nation/World

U.N. official warns Karzai over reforms

Los Angeles Times
The Spokesman-Review photo

Kai Eide, chief of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, speaks during a press conference on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

KABUL – The top United Nations official in Afghanistan on Thursday issued an unusually pointed warning to President Hamid Karzai to enact major political reforms or risk losing the support of the international community.

“There is a belief among some that the international commitment to Afghanistan will continue whatever happens because of the strategic importance of Afghanistan,” U.N. Special Representative Kai Eide said at a news conference. “I would like to emphasize that this is not correct.

“It is public opinion in donor countries and in troop contributing countries that decides the strength of that commitment,” Eide said, “and the debate we have seen over the last few weeks and months underlines that we are at a critical juncture.”

Underscoring the fragility of that commitment, U.N. officials said the world body was temporarily pulling hundreds of staff members out of Afghanistan while it reviews security arrangements following an attack last week on a Kabul guest house that killed five U.N. employees and three Afghans.

Eide’s remarks Thursday echoed recent warnings by President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who need a credible partner in Kabul to justify sending more troops and other resources.

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