Afghanistan's Election Commission says it will try to hold elections on schedule

Kabul, January 30, 2005 - Head of the newly established electoral commission in Afghanistan has told Pajhwok that his team will do its best to hold the parliamentary elections in spring as scheduled.

Earlier, President Hamid Karzai had expressed hope that the Commission would hold polls on schedule. "We will be very very happy to if they (the electoral commission) manages to hold parliamentary elections in the spring," Karzai told a press conference on Friday. However speaking on the same day Foreign minister, Abdullah, said technical problems could delay the vote.

Bismillah Bismil, head of the independent electoral commission in charge of organizing the elections, told Pajhwok on Saturday that the parliamentary vote was different from last year presidential elections. "The difference is that we haven't got an exact census from all over the country and that the financial needs haven't been funded so far," he said in a phone conversation. Bismil did not specify a date for the election but said he will do his best to organize it as soon as possible.

Many experts and political analysts expect the polls to be delayed beyond the original schedule because the United Nations has not completed the necessary preparations. Foreign minister, Abdullah, also said on Friday that technical problems could suspend the vote.

About the procedure, Bismil said that more than 1000 eligible people would contest for the 249 parliamentary seats and that they were required to announce their candidacy 75 days before the election date.