Haiti has everyone's attention nowadays. This week, another country will share the spotlight: Afghanistan.
London is hosting the next donor summit on the war-torn Asian country Jan. 28. The conference, according to its Web site, aims to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai meet the ambitions he outlined during his inauguration speech.
Afghanistan hogged the headlines in late 2009 following allegations of fraud in its August presidential election and the planned runoff three months later, which did not take place after Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the race. In November, the same month that Karzai was declared winner, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan the second-most corrupt country in the world, behind only Somalia.
Those events make promoting good governance an obvious goal of the donor summit. Event participants will explore how development assistance would aid Afghan leadership, and hope the Afghan delegation will outline concrete steps to fight corruption and strengthen fiscal management.
Representatives from more than 70 nations and international organizations such as the World Bank and United Nations are expected to attend. But participation isn't limited to these delegates. Organizers have been collecting questions from the public - regardless of location - for British ministers Bob Ainsworth, David Miliband, Douglas Alexander and Ivan Lewis. Questions for Defense Secretary Ainsworth and Foreign Secretary Miliband are still welcome, and they plan to answer "some of your most popular questions around the topic of UK policy on Afghanistan." Yes, questions need votes to boost their chance of being answered.
But the Web site no longer accepts questions for International Development Secretary Alexander and Minister of State Lewis. Here are some of the questions for Alexander:
Given the massive capacity and governance issues within the Afghan government will DfID consider extending its considerable funding to well respected UK NGOs with a long track record in Afghansitan working in Northern, Western and Eastern Afghansitan?
How will DFID support public administration in the central government of Afghanistan over the next 5 years through its bi-lateral programme in order to improve civil service salaries and make government more accountable and responsive to civil society?
How many national and international aid agencies are currently qworking in Afghanistan? Can you please explain how you are effectively working together or how you would like the working relationsip to be improved to increase efficiency
Alexander's video replies are now up. Viewers may vote up or down on his responses. So far, it's looking pretty good for the British aid official.