Ballot papers from the Afghanistan presidential election are seen in a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 21, 2009. UPI/Mohammad Kheirkhah | License Photo
KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Japan said Thursday a $16.7 million grant to support elections in Afghanistan next April will help ensure political transition is fair and transparent.
Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan Hiroshi Takahashi said the grant money was to support the Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan.
"These elections are central to the country's political transition," he said in a statement. "Japan expects that this contribution will further the conduct of inclusive elections and will assist the IEC in its goal of fostering broader democratic participation and increasing public confidence."
The IEC announced Wednesday it concluded the registration process for 2014 elections. It said there were 26 candidates, including 1 female, registered for the presidential contest and more than 3,000 candidates, of which10 percent are women, registered for provincial council elections.
"The candidates and their supporters bear the responsibility of fully upholding Afghan electoral laws and other relevant electoral provisions, as well as international standards for peaceful, transparent, credible, inclusive and fair elections," U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan Jan Kubis said in a statement.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai won't compete because of term limits. Next year's election will mark the first time power is transferred from one democratically elected administration to the next in Afghanistan's history.
Provincial council and presidential elections are scheduled April 5.