The UK and the European Union have reaffirmed their support to the Afghan presidential elections scheduled for September 28 amid hopes and skepticism concerning a possible peace deal between the US and the Taliban and a week after the hardline group warned Afghan citizens to avoid attending election campaign gatherings as Taliban fighters have been ordered to target campaign rallies throughout the country, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

On August 15, the UK government announced a financial package of £8 million to the Afghan election process, saying the financial contribution was aimed to further develop democratic process in Afghanistan. 

The British embassy in Kabul in a statement said that the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will make available up to £8 million to the UN Electoral Support Program, which provides technical support to Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Bodies and this also includes a planned contribution of £4 million to support preparations for the Presidential election.

British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Alison Blake, said that the new aid package is aimed to support Afghanistan’s democratic process, adding that her government was firmly committed to help the Afghans determine the future of their country through ballots. 

“I am pleased that through this contribution the UK can continue to support Afghanistan’s democratic process. The UK strongly supports elections in Afghanistan in order that the Afghan people can have their rightful say in the future of their country,” she said. 

The statement said that timely elections are another step towards a more stable and democratic future for Afghanistan. 

The British government has also raised hope that the election is conducted in a fair manner, without interference of government officials or the use of state resources to benefit particular candidates. 

In addition, the EU Delegation to Afghanistan has also voiced support to the elections to be held on the specific timeline, saying the elections were about choosing between candidates and defending the values.

“Presidential election is about choosing between candidates & also about defending values. September 28 will be the occasion for Afghan people to express support to democracy & consolidate legitimacy of political leadership,” the EU mission tweeted.

Eighteen candidates are running for presidency, including the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.