Afghanistan likely to delay parliamentary, local elections
* Analyst say Karzai considering postponing elections until the fall
* Ministry spokesman says government still working on local boundaries
KABUL: Afghanistan looks likely to delay parliamentary, provincial and district elections scheduled for May, possibly until fall, analysts and diplomats say.
They say a deadline to announce electoral boundaries 120 days before the polls, slated to be held by May 20, passed last week.
“That is the first deadline that has to be looked at if we want the elections to take place in the month of Saur,” UN spokeswoman Ariane Quentier told a press briefing last week, referring to the Afghan month which ends on May 20.
Electoral authorities announced in July that parliamentary polls - initially intended to be organised with presidential elections won by Hamid Karzai in October - would not be held before this spring.
The delay was meant to allow more time to register voters, decide the voting system and each province’s number of seats, disarm militias and strengthen security forces.
The polls, involving thousands of candidates and being held without reliable population figures, are much more complex than presidential elections. Several experts, as well as senior diplomats in Kabul, have said they did not expect them to happen before the summer or fall.
The defence minister of Germany, which has about 2,000 troops helping to police war-torn Afghanistan, is one of those expecting a delay.
“There are indications that Afghan President Hamid Karzai considers postponing the elections until the fall,” Peter Struck told a press conference in Berlin on Friday.
The interior ministry on Sunday confirmed that district boundaries had not yet been defined.
“We are currently working on the district boundaries. It has yet not been finished, it is not finalised,” ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal told the news agency.
He did not say when the boundaries would be announced or whether polls would be delayed, but analysts here agreed that the current timetable would not be met.
“It is not going to be possible in the April-May timeframe,” Andrew Wilder, an electoral expert at Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit, told the news agency.
“Many major decisions remain to be taken such as the district boundaries, the number of seats for each province or the voting system,” Wilder added.
“They are giving the illusion that it is going to be on time but it is not going to be,” another analyst said on condition of anonymity.
However, experts said it was better to delay polls than hold ill-prepared ones on time. “A delayed election is better than a bad election. Such a delay is better if it means that we will then be able to meet international standards,” Wilder said.
Another electoral expert familiar with the process said: “Good progress has been made for the determination of district boundaries and my understanding is that the Ministry of Interior will be able to do it very soon.”
“Maybe the elections will be held a day or two or a week later but what we want is to have a good and credible election,” added the expert, who did not want to be named. afp