KABUL -- Afghanistan has started registering new voters for its presidential and provincial council elections due on April 5, 2014.
Fazel Ahmad Manawi, head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), told reporters at a registration center in Kabul that “today we are happy to have launched the voter registration process."
He also said the registrars would only go to areas where security was sufficient for them to work.
"We will go to places where the police provides security for our teams," he said. "[Voter registration teams] won’t go to places where security forces fall short of providing adequate security and the security forces are to be held accountable. It is our responsibility to send our workers, technical support, and facilitate, but we will only follow the police force and go where they take us. In case [the police] fail to go to a particular area, they will be responsible to the people of that area.”
The registration process began on May 26 in 41 centers in all 34 provinces for those who have turned 18, have previously not registered, or have lost their voter cards.
In the months-long process, 4 million names are expected to be added to the electoral roll, which currently contains 16 million voters.
The election next year coincides with the withdrawal of the 100,000 NATO combat troops as Afghan security forces take charge of the battle against the Taliban.
The presidential race will not include incumbent Hamid Karzai, who is barred after serving two terms in office.
There are no declared candidates yet for the presidency.
Speculation about potential candidates ranges from Karzai's brother Qayum Karzai, to former U.S. ambassador to Kabul Zalmay Khalilzad, to Mohammed Atta Noor, who is now governor of Balkh Province.
With reporting by AFP