Thursday, March 18, 2004

Afghan delays

National elections in Afghanistan might be delayed by two months:

President Hamid Karzai suggested Wednesday that Afghan national elections may be postponed by a month or two, the latest sign of the instability that has hampered the war-torn country's recovery.

The Afghan leader's statements during a meeting here with U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell are the strongest indications to date that presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June may be delayed.

Only about 15% of the estimated 9.9 million eligible voters have been registered, because of threats against aid workers, poor access to remote villages and difficulties enlisting the participation of Afghan women, United Nations officials say.

"The Afghan government is keen to have elections in June, July or August," said Karzai, surrounded by security guards in the fortress-like presidential palace here in the capital. "At this point, it looks like we should be aiming for elections in midsummer 2004."


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