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Parliamentary polls could be delayed, hints IEC chief

KABUL: The Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief on Wednesday hinted at possible a delay in the parliamentary polls, scheduled for late April.

In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani blamed the delay on the government’s weak will to arrange the required funds.

On the other hand, the presidential spokesman insisted the government remained committed to conducting the parliamentary elections on schedule.

Article 83 of the constitution says Wolesi Jirga members shall be elected by the people through free, general, secret and direct balloting.

The five-year assembly term will end after the announcements of election results on the 1st of June when the new parliament shall commence work.

The elections have to be held 30 to 60 days prior to the expiration of the lower house term. The number of the members of the house shall be proportionate to the population of each constituency, not exceeding a maximum of 250.

But Nuristani warned: “If we are not ready on the financial front, the parliamentary elections are unlikely to take place on schedule.”

He said the IEC was technically prepared to conduct the polls, an exercise that would require $140 million. No arrangement had been made so far to ensure the availability of the funds, he added.

The president was informed some four months back about the funding situation, he recalled. On Wednesday, circulars were dispatched again to the president and the Finance Ministry to talk to donors.

Nuristani continued foreigners released funds only when the government prepared a concrete strategy for holding elections but it did not debate the issue as yet.

The government, he suggested, should allocate funds for polls because the ballot could not be concluded without enough money. “I want to make clear that unavailability of funds is the main reason for postponing the parliamentary elections…”

Nuristani said he had held meetings with government officials on the Wolesi Jirga election and told them that they should be held as per the constitutional requirement.

“We cannot hold elections on April 22 because we need time. But if the government makes arrangements after two or three months, we will hold the polls,” he maintained.

Three days back, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi underlined the need for holding the parliamentary elections as scheduled.

But Ajmal Obaid Abidi, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, vowed the incumbent administration would do all it could to enforce the rule of law. In compliance with the constitution, he promised, elections would be held at stipulated time. (PAN)

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