16:57 GMT +319 August 2019
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    An Afghan man casts his vote at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan (File)

    Afghanistan to Elect New Parliament on Saturday

    © AP Photo / Massoud Hossaini
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    Afghans will go to the polls on Saturday to elect lawmakers to the lower house of the national parliament after more than a year of delays.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The date for the election was set last March by an independent election commission, in a surprise decision that raised concerns in Afghanistan’s unity government, which was in a hurry to push through an important electoral reform by this October.

    The overhaul of the electoral system was one of the agreements made by two presidential frontrunners after a contested 2014 election. They went on to sign a power-sharing deal and create a unity government two months later.

    President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah promised they would reform the electoral process to guarantee a fair vote in time for the next parliamentary election in 2015 but failed to deliver.

    The term of the parliament expired in June 2015 and was extended by the president, putting his accord with Abdullah at risk and threatening to divide the country at a time when the Taliban insurgency was on the rise once again.

    Announcing in spring the election date, the electoral committee accused unnamed powerful officials within the administration, as well as foreign embassies and international organizations, of obstructing the on-time delivery of the election under pretext of reforms.

    The upcoming election is now more than a year overdue. It will elect 249 lawmakers to the Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) for a five-year term. Voters will also cast ballots in the district council elections.

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