Delay to Afghan polls will ensure better preparations, UN envoy says

24 January 2010

The top United Nations official in Afghanistan has welcomed today''s decision to postpone the country''s parliamentary elections by four months, saying it will give election authorities more time to prepare for the polls.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced in Kabul that it was delaying the parliamentary polls until 18 September, citing Article 55 of Afghanistan''s electoral law, which allows the IEC to delay elections on security, financial or technical concerns. The polls were supposed to have been held by May.

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General''s Special Representative for Afghanistan and the head of the UN political mission in the country (known as UNAMA), issued a statement saying that the postponement will allow extra time to prepare for staging the polls.

"This would have been extremely difficult to do by the original date," Mr. Eide said.

"It also provides time to make improvements to the electoral process based on lessons learned during the presidential and Provincial Council elections in 2009."

Election authorities found evidence of fraud during the first round of presidential polls last year.

This Thursday in London, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will co-host an international conference on the way forward for Afghanistan.

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