egis­tra­tion ic s off for e fghan elec­tions

Viet Nam News - - Asia -

A — Afghanistan yes­ter­day start­e­dreg­is­ter­ingnewvot­ers­for­elec­tions next year, a cru­cial step to­wards a le­git­i­mate govern­ment tak­ing over when Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai re­lin­quish­es­power.

Four mil­lion names are ex­pected to be added to the elec­toral roll, cur­rently con­tain­ing 16 mil­lion vot­ers be­fore polls in April 2014, though many Afghans fear that the date could be de­layed due to the threat of at­tack by the Tal­iban in­sur­gency.

The pres­i­den­tial race from which Karzai is barred af­ter serv­ing two terms is seen as the key test of the suc­cess of US-led in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion since the Tal­iban regime fell in 2001.

“To­day we are happy to have launched the voter regis­tra­tion process,” Fazel Ah­mad Manawi, head of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (IEC), said at a regis­tra­tion cen­tre in Kabul.

“We will im­ple­ment all the elec­tion pro­cesses step by step ac­cord­ing to the timetable.”

Regis­tra­tion be­gan in 41 cen­tres in all 34 prov­inces for those who have turned 18, had pre­vi­ously not reg­is­tered or have lost their voter cards.

The process will last two months in the cities and will then move to ru­ral dis­tricts and vil­lages, con­tin­u­ing un­til just be­fore elec­tion day.

The last pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, held in late 2009.

Karzai has vowed to work to en­sure a free and fair elec­tion, and in­te­rior min­istry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that the army and po­lice would be able to guar­an­tee se­cu­rity.

There are no de­clared can­di­date­sand­nofront-run­nersinther­ace to be the next pres­i­dent, with spec­u­la­tion rang­ing from Karzai’s brother Qayum Karzai to for­mer war­lord Mo­hammed Atta Noor, who is now gover­nor of Balkh prov­ince. — A P

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