KABUL (PAN): The UN mission and Afghanistan Independent Human Right Commission (AIHRC) say Afghans have demonstrated a high level of interest and enthusiasm to participate, and to exercise their political rights, in the upcoming elections.

"Monitoring shows that the campaigns of the 3,195 provincial council candidates and 40 presidential candidates by and large have been conducted in a dignified and engaged manner that has stimulated vibrant political debates," a UNAMA-AIHRC report said on Sunday.

According to the report although insecurity posed a significant obstacle to the exercise of political rights during the campaign period, political rights of candidates and their supporters have generally been respected despite isolated instances of documented violations.

Such instances include four alleged election-related deaths including the July 6 killing of the head of the Chimtal district (Balkh) IEC Civic Education team and his police guard.

On July 19 an independent provincial council candidate and his friend were killed after being kidnapped in Dasht-e-Archi district (Kunduz). In Nijrab district (Kapisa), campaign manager of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was killed on July 15.

On July 30, a remote-controlled IED attack on a vehicle of President Karzais campaign killed four people including district campaign manager in Jawzjan.

"There are various concerns about the status of womens political rights. Women remain disadvantaged in the context of campaigning (their right to stand for office), accessing voter registration, and seeking remedies for violations of the electoral laws and regulations," the report added.

It voiced concern at an upward trend in breaches of the principle of non-intimidation by anti-government elements, as well as rival candidates and their supporters. Fighters tended to be responsible for the majority of breaches of the principle of non-intimidation, the joint report said.

"Insecurity has severely limited freedom of movement and constrained freedom of expression for candidates and supporters, hampering their ability to campaign openly through public gatherings or door-to-door visits throughout their constituencies," the UNAMA-AIHRC monitoring found.

The restrictions have, in turn, created significant limitations on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and amplified womens difficulties in participating in the electoral process. The limitations have posed challenges to the complaints process and preparations for polling and counting, including voter and civic education.

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