Afghan official: Delayed elections set for Oct. 15

AP News
Posted: Jan 18, 2016 6:58 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan will hold parliamentary and district council elections, originally scheduled for last June, on Oct. 15, an Afghan official said Monday.

Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, head of the Independent Election Commission, said the repeatedly delayed date conforms with Afghan law.

The current parliament was extended beyond its five-year term by President Ashraf Ghani after politicians were unable to agree on a date for elections.

The delays have been driven by concerns about security for voters, as the Taliban insurgency has become more ferocious in the year since U.S. and NATO forces officially concluded their combat mission.

A bitter presidential election in 2014 went to two rounds before Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah agreed to a U.S.-brokered power-sharing deal.

Abdullah is now chief executive in a unity government that has publicly committed to electoral reform. His deputy spokesman, Javid Faisal, said reforms should be implemented before the elections are held.

"Any announcement for the parliament and district council elections should come after reform has been introduced to both electoral commissions," said Faisal, referring to the IEC and the Election Complaints commission, both of which have faced accusations of corruption and partisanship in elections held over the past decade.

He noted that the international community, which has bankrolled Afghanistan's elections, has also made its continued support conditional on reforms.

In his press conference, Nuristani urged "all individuals and relevant authorities to respect the independence of the election commission."