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Vote Counting Delayed In Afghanistan

The Kabul vote counting center stands empty on 20 September 20 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Election officials say the start of counting ballots from Afghanistan's first legislative elections in more than 30 years has been delayed by at least one day.

Officials at the United Nations-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) told RFE/RL today that the delay was due to difficulties in the transportation of ballots to counting centers.

Vote counting in all 34 provinces was scheduled to begin today.

Workers are bringing the votes from the 18 September nationwide polls to counting centers by trucks, helicopters, donkeys, and camels.

Initial official results are not expected for about two weeks in the vote for the 249 members of the Wolesi Jirga parliament and for 34 provincial councils.

Early estimates by electoral officials have put the voter turnout out at slightly more than 50 percent of about 12.4 million people who were registered to cast ballots.

This is lower than the nearly 70 percent turnout in last October's presidential election, but Afghan and international officials have nevertheless praised the parliamentary and local polls as a success.

(with additional information from agency reports)

For RFE/RL's full coverage of the legislative elections in Afghanistan, see "Afghanistan Votes"