UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Afghanistan faces real security challenges as it readies itself for provincial council and presidential elections in April, a U.N. envoy said.
U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan Jan Kubis told members of the Security Council elections in April are of "critical importance" for a country preparing to do without international military support.
April elections in Afghanistan will mark the first time power is transferred from one democratically elected administration to the next in Afghan history. There are around two dozen presidential candidates and more than 3,000 provincial council candidates competing in the race.
Kubis warned attention should be paid to the security situation in Afghanistan as the elections approach.
"The security challenges are real and should be proactively and realistically addressed to promote maximum inclusion and avoid any pretext for disenfranchisement or delay," he said in his testimony Tuesday.
Elections in 2009 were seen as skewed in favor of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is ineligible to compete next year because of term limits.
Kubis called on members of the international community to commit elections observers to Afghanistan as soon as possible.