Presidential vote is postponed to August

Afghanistan will not vote for a new president until August 20, after the May vote was postponed. The country's election committee said the anticipated May poll could not be organised as scheduled.


AFP - Afghanistan has postponed presidential elections until August 20 because the vote could not be organised by late May as scheduled, the country's election commission announced Thursday.

The vote will be the second presidential election in Afghanistan's history, and a postponement from the May date stipulated in the constitution had been widely expected.

"The commission decided to hold the election on the 29th of Asad which corresponds to August 20," Independent Election Commission chief Azizullah Ludin told a news conference.

Ludin said technical, logistical and security issues meant the election could not be held by May 22.

Afghan electoral law gave the commission the power to change the date of the poll if any problems, whether technical or security-related, could call the legitimacy of the vote into question, he said.

President Hamid Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, has said he will run for a second, five-year term, but few other candidates have emerged.

Karzai was picked to lead the transitional government and won 55 percent of the vote in the country's first presidential elections in 2004, but his position has been weakened by failure to stem violence and corruption.

While an election delay had been expected, opposition groups may raise objections.

The United Nations said that postponement was a "pragmatic necessity".

"We hope very much there will be consensus in the community on this date and the pragmatic necessity of it," spokesman Adrian Edwards told AFP.

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