egistration ic s off for e fghan elections
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 Karzais brother Qayum Karzai to former warlord Mohammed Atta Noor, who is now governor of Balkh province. A P