Council members “share the concern expressed in the briefing from Under-Secretary-General Sir Kieran Prendergast about the shortfall in funding for the Loya Jirga process, the urgent humanitarian situation, and the formation of the Afghan national army,” the current President of the 15-member body, Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe of Syria, said in a press statement. They “appeal to the international community to contribute urgently to making up the shortfall,” he added.Council members welcomed arrangements being made for the latest step in Afghanistan’s political transition – namely preparations for the Emergency Loya Jirga, set to start in Kabul on 10 June, and congratulated the Loya Jirga Commission for its work in this effort, according to the President. The members also “commended the role played by the Afghan Interim Administration, the 1st Battalion of the Afghan National Guard, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and coalition forces to provide security to the successful convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga,” he said.The members called on the Afghan people and their leaders across the country to work together, within the framework of the Bonn Agreement that set the terms for the transition, “to build democratic institutions and to prepare in due course for national elections,” according to the statement. Members also congratulated Afghan Chairman Hamid Karzai and his ministers in the Interim Administration “for successfully bringing Afghanistan to this point in the Bonn process.”Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the selection process for the Emergency Loya Jirga concluded today. With the list of delegates still being finalized, a UN spokesman reported that the group included 20 women. “This is in addition to the 160 reserved seats for women,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. According to the procedures established by the Special Independent Commission, the Loya Jirga will include approximately 1,500 representatives, including 1,000 who are elected and 500 who are selected among particular groups.Hundreds of delegates have already begun arriving in Kabul, according to Mr. Dujarric. “In the next couple of days before the Loya Jirga convenes on Monday, the delegates will have orientation sessions and there will also be presentations on the history of the Loya Jirga and the roles and responsibilities of the delegates,” he said.
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