Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Nato denies Afghan election claim

By Ian Pannell
BBC News, Kabul

German Nato soldier
Nato says that it's vital the vote goes ahead

Nato has denied that it wants next year's presidential election in Afghanistan postponed or cancelled.

There are growing concerns that there may be a delay in the vote because of security concerns.

But a Nato spokesman, James Apathurai, told the BBC it wants the poll to proceed as planned.

A recent report in the Financial Times newspaper said that Nato officials along with some diplomats and Afghan politicians were pushing for a delay.

It said that some even wanted a cancellation of next year's presidential election.

It is an idea that some here are actively debating though it is not yet a mainstream or majority view.

Safe environment

The article quoted an unnamed senior official saying a loya jirga - or traditional tribal gathering - might be an alternative to a presidential election.

But James Apathurai, speaking on behalf of Nato's secretary general, told the BBC that it was vital that the elections are held next year.

"We don't need multiple messages and frankly we don't need people opining behind cover of anonymity on their personal views of what should happen," he said.

"I know that the international community believes that these elections are very important and need to be held within the calendar year as the constitution foresees."

However the problem of how to hold free and fair elections in places that are either under the control of the Taleban or being actively fought over is very real.

Nato says extra resources will be available to provide a safe environment but that is a task that has already proved hard to implement in many parts of Afghanistan.

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