KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan and the United Nations have reached agreement to transfer to Kabul’s control a controversial multi-billion dollar fund intended to rebuild the police force and pay officers, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said on Monday.
The deal transferring the fund over 18 months and to be signed by both parties on Tuesday is a breakthrough after months of negotiations over how rapidly it should pass to Afghan control.
The bid to revamp the police has been one of the most expensive and problem-plagued projects Afghanistan’s Western allies have undertaken since stepping in to rebuild the country after the toppling of the Taliban in 2001. A strong and disciplined force is essential to combating Taliban insurgency.
Late last year, the Afghan president demanded it be transferred within six months, triggering heated discussions that contributed to the departure of UNDP’s country director after less than a year in the role.
The Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan (LOTFA) has received about $3.6 billion from international donors since 2002 to pay Afghan police force salaries and other expenses.
“The new LOTFA project is the result of weeks of intense collaboration…. We appreciate the government’s decision to continue working with UNDP,” a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.
The new plan will require the government to meet certain conditions at six month intervals for the transfer to proceed within that time frame.
The deal has been agreed in time for a June 30 deadline, when a six month extension to come up with a transition plan expires. Some donors had worried negotiations could take longer, requiring a back-up plan to continue paying the police force.
Reporting by Jessica Donati; editing by Ralph Boulton