Ecumenical News International

EKD Peace Secretary Stresses Role of Civil Society in Afghanistan

December 6, 2011

Bremen (epd). The spokesperson on peace issues for the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Remke Brahms, has recommended involving civil society more in reconstruction in Afghanistan. After the Bonn Afghanistan Conference, he told epd "it is not enough to rely on the government of President Hamid Karsai alone." Civil society forces are strong and reach out into the regional and local levels, he added.
"That corresponds much more to the Afghan structure than Karsai's centralized government," said Brahms. At a forum in Bonn shortly before the opening of the Afghanistan Conference, representatives of civil society had complained that their voices often went unheard.
In their final declaration, the participating states agreed to support Afghanistan in a "decade of transformation" until 2024. This would involve political reforms, peace negotiations and civil reconstruction. "That is an important message," affirmed Brahms. But he also doubted whether the timeframe was sufficient. In order to advance security and civil reconstruction, "Afghanistan and the international community need much more time, at least ten years."

Brahms, who is also president of the Bremen Evangelical Church, noted that Afghanistan was on the right track with its clear commitment to human rights, civil reconstruction and fighting corruption.

Brahms is critical about any extension of Karsai's period in office, which, in his view, would not be beneficial for the democratic process. According to media reports, Karsai wants to change the constitution of his country in order to be elected for the third time in 2014. Brahms also warned against a further stationing of US soldiers when NATO withdraws its troops at the end of 2014. "That will hinder talks with the Taliban. Responsibility for security should be consistently handed over to the Afghans."

6 December 2011



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