Afghanistan delays parliamentary election due this year

Afghan election authorities said they had postponed a parliamentary election due this year.

Afghanistan delays parliamentary election due this year

Afghan election authorities said on Sunday they had postponed a parliamentary election due this year.

Independent Election Commission member Zekriya Barakzai said the postponement was due to "problems and constraints to get the proper budget, and also security concerns, logistical obstacles and also to improve the electoral procedures."

Western diplomats applauded the decision to push the election to Sept. 18 from May 22.

The date also means the election would fall after the traditional summer fighting season, giving an expanding NATO-led force more time to stay in southern areas.

They had been hoping a postponement would be announced before an international conference on Afghanistan's future in London later this week, where the early date was set to be an irritant.

The United Nations is holding tens of millions of dollars earmarked for Afghan elections in an account, but diplomats have said they will not release the money without reforms.

An international diplomat, speaking on condition he not be identified, called it "a pragmatic and sensible decision which will allow time for reform of the key electoral institutions to enable cleaner parliamentary elections."

The election commission did not comment on whether its membership would be changed.

The diplomat said the international community would not be pleased if Karzai reappoints the election commission's head, Azizullah Ludin, whose term expired on Saturday. Opponents accuse Ludin, a presidential appointee, of favouring Karzai.

It led to months of political limbo, with the election commission declaring Karzai the winner but a separate U.N.-backed body rejecting enough ballots to lower Karzai's total below 50 percent and force a second round.

The run-off was cancelled when Karzai's opponent withdrew.

Karzai has consistently maintained that the extent of fraud was exaggerated by Western media.

Parliamentarians, once seen as docile, caused Karzai headaches this month by twice vetoing most of his candidates for cabinet posts.

He still has to fill 11 posts, including some important portfolios like public health.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2010, 19:43
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