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Afghan voter registration to begin winding down - UN mission

26 July 2004 With almost 8 million people now registered to vote in Afghanistan, and the pace of enrolment increasing in the south, the United Nations mission to the country (UNAMA) has announced that the long-running registration process is set to wind down.

Most registration sites will close by the end of this month, UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters in Kabul yesterday. But some sites in areas where enrolment has been comparatively low will stay open into August.

The rate of voter registration is already picking up in Afghanistan's south, where it had been slow. In Helmand province, for example, the average daily number of people registering has risen from about 5,000 to 13,000.

Mr. de Almeida e Silva said electoral authorities had confirmation that 7.99 million people - from an estimated pool of up to 10 million - were registered by last Thursday. More than 40 per cent are women - a striking figure considering their large-scale disenfranchisement under the ousted Taliban regime.

Afghanistan's electoral authorities began registering voters last December for the country's first free elections in a generation. The presidential poll is scheduled for 9 October and local and national parliamentary elections are due to be held next April.

Today is the final day for presidential candidates to file their papers to run in the race. After checking for irregularities, electoral staff expect to issue a final list of candidates on 10 August.

Meanwhile, relief efforts are continuing in nearly a dozen provinces across the country's northern, central and eastern regions, which have been hit by recent floods and landslides.



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