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Afghanistan government postpones presidential elections again

Elections in Afghanistan are expected to take place in September [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 March, 2019

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Afghanistan elections will be held in September after repeated delays.

Afghanistan's presidential elections will now be held in September, it was announced on Wednesday, the second time the vote has been pushed back as a peace deal with the Taliban still remains elusive.

Elections were originally due to be held in 20 April, and then delayed until 20 July, with a new date set for 28 September.

It comes following speculation the vote was pushed back to give more space for US-led efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban. 

However, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) is still finalising results of October's shambolic parliamentary elections

The IEC said in a statement Wednesday that the vote had faced "numerous problems and challenges ... therefore holding the elections based on the timelines previously announced is not possible".

"In order to better implement the rule of election law, ensure transparency as well as voter registration, the presidential election, provincial council election as well as the parliamentary election of Ghazni province will be held on 28 September," the statement said.

"[It] provided all relevant sides, especially the government and the international community, provide the IEC with the required budget on time."

President Ashraf Ghani, who plans to seek re-election, said the government respects the decision and is "fully prepared to cooperate with the IEC".

Talks have been ongoing to achieve peace in Afghanistan, between the US and Taliban.

But the government have been sidelined which has caused anger and unease in Kabul. 

The Taliban dismisses the Afghan authority as a puppet government.

President Ashraf Ghani's aide sparked a diplomatic spat with Washington by criticising the talks. 

"We don't know what's going on. We don't have the kind of transparency that we should have," Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan's national security advisor, said. "The last people to find out are us."

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad - who is leading talks with the Taliban in Qatar - said that "real strides" in negotiations have been made, but no fixed agreement has been made, although a "draft" has been made. 

Many Afghans are worried that Ghani's fragile unity government would collapse if US troops pulled out, and the Taliban would be returned to power.

The Taliban have meanwhile stepped up its bloody war against Afghan government forces, with bombings and shootings killing thousands.

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