KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan will hold postponed parliamentary elections in October, the top election official said on Monday, after last June’s deadline to choose a new assembly was missed because of political squabbling.
Parliament’s five-year term expired last June, but elections were postponed because of security fears and disagreements on how to ensure a fair vote after a bitterly disputed presidential election in 2014.
President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree last year extending parliament’s mandate until a vote could be held, a decision criticised by Afghans, who questioned whether the extension was legal.
If the elections go ahead as planned, they are likely to be held against a backdrop of sharply worsening security, with the Taliban trying to build on their campaign last year that included the brief capture of the northern city of Kunduz.
The elections will be held on Oct. 15, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the head of the election commission, told a press conference in Kabul.
Nuristani said the elections would only be held on time if the government provided the necessary budget and security for candidates, election personnel and ballot boxes.
Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah both claimed victory in the last presidential vote marred by accusations of fraud. It took months for them to agree to a U.S.-brokered deal to form a unity government.
Ghani and Abdullah agreed on electoral reform as a condition for any future elections but little progress has been made since rivals in the unity government have long disagreed over who should lead the reform commission.
Frustrated international donors decided to cut short a multi-million-dollar project to fund electoral bodies last year because of the delays setting a date for the vote.
Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing By Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Nick Macfie
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.