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SLUG: 2-311654 U-N Afghan Vote (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=1/8/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= UN/AFGHAN VOTE (L-O)

NUMBER=2-311654

BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN

DATELINE=UNITED NATIONS

CONTENT=

INTRO: United Nations officials say elections in Afghanistan will probably have to be postponed, because too few voters have registered. A target date of June had been set for the vote, but as Peter Heinlein reports from U-N headquarters, security fears have forced curtailment of a voter registration campaign.

TEXT: Given the almost daily outbreaks of violence in Afghanistan, U-N spokesman Fred Eckhard says it looks like it will impossible to hold presidential and legislative elections less than six months from now.

///ECKHARD ACT///

The target date of June now appears out of reach. That's the news of today, given the rate of registration so far and the continuing security concerns.

///END ACT///

Mr. Eckhard says registration is proceeding in Afghanistan's eight main cities. But dangerous conditions make it impossible for voter outreach teams to travel to rural areas.

Of 10-million eligible voters, fewer than 275-thousand have signed up.

The spokesman also expressed concern about the relatively small number of women among those registering.

///2ND ECKHARD ACT///

More than 215-thousand of those are men, under 60-thousand are women.

///END ACT///

U-N officials say security is the main concern, but other factors also contribute to what may be a lengthy delay in voting. For one thing, there are no laws setting the rules for an election, and there is a lack of clear electoral boundaries.

In a report issued this week, Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that the peace process in Afghanistan has reached a critical juncture. He says security has deteriorated at a time when just the opposite is needed.

Several foreign aid groups -- including the United Nations -- have scaled back operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan after a series of attacks on staff and facilities. (Signed)

NEB/NYC/PFH/FC/MEM



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