Afghanistan postpones presidential election

Vote set for April will be delayed for several months to fix glitches in biometric identification system, says official.

No new date for presidential polls has been set [File: Kevin Frayer/AP]

Afghanistan’s presidential election, initially scheduled for April, will be postponed for several months to allow time to fix technical problems that surfaced during October’s parliamentary elections, officials said

Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, deputy spokesman for the Independent Election Commission, said on Wednesday that more time is needed to train staff on a biometric identification system designed to reduce fraud.

He said verification of voter lists also requires more time.

No new date for presidential polls has been set.

Parliamentary elections were fraught with delays after the few staff trained on the biometric system did not show up at the polling booths and countless registered voters could not find their names on voter lists.

Polling had to continue for a second day after hundreds of polling stations opened several hours late. Several legal complaints have been filed to challenge the results.

The last presidential election, held in 2014, was mired in controversy and widespread allegations of fraud.

The two leading candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, fought a tight race that went to a second vote.

But before the results of the runoff could be announced, Abdullah alleged massive vote fraud and warned of widespread protests.

John Kerry, the then US secretary of state, interceded and helped cobble together a unity government and convinced the election commission to hold off on announcing the results of the runoff, which Ghani seemed poised to win.

Ghani was named president and Abdullah was given a newly created title of Chief Executive.

The arrangement was intended to last only two years but has continued up to the present, resulting in a government marked by deep divisions that has struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban.

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Source: News Agencies