Efforts to train 20,000 police officers for Afghanistan’s elections are gathering additional momentum this month with a series of expanded intensive courses in the north and the southeast, according to the United Nations mission in the country (UNAMA). Beginning today in the southeast, 750 policemen from Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktika, Khost and Paktia are set to undergo a three-week training course at the Gardez Police Academy to upgrade their skills, UNAMA said. The course, part of the academy’s Transition Integration Programme, is the third in a series that began in Mid-November. The Programme, which is led and funded by the United States, complements training by Germany, the lead nation assisting in the reform of the Afghan police, which is preparing new recruits at the Kabul Police Academy. Next week in the north, 1,000 police from Balk, Sar-i-Pul, Faryab, Jawjan and Samangan are expected to start the same training at the Mazar Police Academy. Qualified Afghan police and US experts as well as members of United Kingdom Mazar-based team are providing the training. So far slightly more than 1 million of Afghanistan’s estimated eligible electorate of 10.5 million have registered to vote. UNAMA officials have said that it would be close to impossible to hold elections in June as planned because current security conditions do not permit registration teams to move throughout the country. Asked at a news briefing in Kabul yesterday how many police would be trained, UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the election target was 20,000. “That is the hope – let’s see if reality will prove that this hope is true,” he added. The spokesman also noted that women are signing up for the polls at an accelerated pace. “Female registration has been growing faster than male and has increased by 25 per cent versus 12 per cent (male) since 13 December,” he said.