Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Afghanistan presidential election delayed until July 20

The delay will allow time for US-led peace negotiations and amendments to a shambolic biometric voting system

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani shows his inked finger after casting his vote in the opening event of Afghanistan parliamentary election in Kabul. EPA
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani shows his inked finger after casting his vote in the opening event of Afghanistan parliamentary election in Kabul. EPA

Afghanistan's presidential election has been delayed until July 20, an official told AFP on Sunday, postponing a highly anticipated vote by three months.

The election, which was due to take place in the spring was delayed after problems counting votes from the country's parliamentary election earlier this year.

The announcement by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) comes after weeks of speculation that the vote would be postponed to create space for US-led efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban.

Provincial and district council elections, as well as a previously postponed parliamentary vote in Ghazni province, will be held on the same day, IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad said.

The presidential ballot was originally scheduled for April 20, which many observers had considered unrealistic given the IEC was still finalising results of October's parliamentary elections.

The country used a biometric system for the first time in their parliamentary elections on October 20, but problems with charging the devices and incomplete voting roles meant some elections continued until the day after.

The delay of the election will also give the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani more time to strike a peace deal with the Taliban, resolving a 17-year conflict.

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There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity with the Taliban in recent months, with peace talks in Doha and Abu Dhabi. The third round of peace talks is due to take place in Saudi Arabia next month.

But the Taliban have refused to speak with the Afghan government, instead only speaking to US officials. They see the United States as an occupying force and the Afghan government as illegitimate.

Mr Ghani was elected in 2014, but is sharing power with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Mr Ghani is only the second Afghan president since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.

He was elected after Hamid Karzai, who was installed by an international coalition, was not eligible to run due to term limits. Mr Karzai was the first Afghanistan president elected after the US-led invasion of the county in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Updated: December 30, 2018 06:28 PM

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