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Talks On Afghan Election Dates In Final Stage

7 July 2004 -- Afghanistan's UN-sponsored electoral commission is meeting today with the Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai in an attempt to finalize dates for presidential and parliamentary elections.

A spokesman for the Joint Electoral Management Body said the commission is meeting with the government today for what he called "final discussions" about how and when to announce election dates.

Government spokesman Jawed Ludin said the commission told the government yesterday that a presidential election is still possible in late September or in October. But Ludin said concerns about logistics, unruly warlords, and ongoing Taliban violence are likely to push back the more difficult ballot for a 249-seat parliament until next year.

"The decision about when to conduct the elections is the work of the election commission," Ludin said. "A team from the commission attended the meeting of the Afghan cabinet [on Tuesday] and they discussed this issue. They will present a report to the cabinet. After a discussion [with the cabinet on 7 July], they will decide on the date of elections."

The presidential vote originally was expected in June but was postponed until September to give more time to register voters and disarm militia fighters. Afghan officials are now talking about a presidential vote during the Afghan month of "Mizan," which is September 22 through October 21 under the solar calendar.

(Afghan Service/AFP/Reuters/AP)