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SLUG: 2-323383 Afghan Elect Date (S&L)
TITLE=AFGHANISTAN ELECTION DATE (S/L)
HEADLINE: Afghanistan Sets Date for Parliamentary Election
INTRO: After repeated delays, Afghanistan has set a date for its parliamentary and provincial elections. VOAs Michael Kitchen reports from Islamabad.
TEXT: Afghan election board chairman Bismillah Bismil says the country's first post-war legislative and provincial elections will take place on September 18th, almost one year past their originally scheduled date.
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He said the decision was the result of discussions with political party representatives, the United Nations, and the administration of President Hamid Karzai.
The election board originally planned to hold the vote for parliament alongside last October's presidential election.
But the voting day was repeatedly pushed back over logistical problems - including a lack of set district boundaries - and security worries, including the need to disarm local militias left over from decades of war.
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Other security concerns include fighters loyal to Afghanistans former ultra-conservative Taleban regime, who continue to wage an anti-government insurgency.
The Taleban attacks have lessened in recent months, although officials fear the insurgency could revive as the election draws near.
In addition to the nascent Afghan National Army, the United States maintains about 18-thousand troops in the country to assist with security. There is also an eight-thousand troop NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Election authorities had also hoped to hold elections for local district councils along with the parliamentary and provincial votes. But disputes over the district-council boundaries will further delay the local-level voting.
Because, under Afghan law, the district councils are responsible for appointing some of the members of the upper house of Parliament, the legislature will remain short-handed until the local elections take place. (SIGNED)
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