Afghan presidential election delayed again

The Independent Election Commission has pushed back the vote for a second time

FILE - In this July 15, 2018, file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Afghan government has fired its election commission, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The move by Ghani’s administration comes more than three months after chaotic parliamentary elections -- the results of which have still not been announced -- and ahead of July’s controversial presidential vote. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

Afghanistan’s presidential election has been delayed until September, officials said Wednesday, marking the second such delay since it was supposed to be held five months ago.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the vote had faced "numerous problems and challenges, and there needs to be reforms along with preparation for the future election, therefore holding the elections based on the timelines previously announced is not possible".

The vote was supposed to be held on April 20 but in December was pushed back to July 20 over fix issues with voter lists, train polling centre staff and implement the biometric ID systems.

It has now been pushed back again until September 20.

Many of the issues that led to the first delay were identified in the wake of the 2018 parliamentary election last October. It was marred by accusations of widespread fraud including ballot-stuffing, technical problems with biometric registration equipment, and attacks by Taliban insurgents.

President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former national security adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar are among the declared candidates for the election.

Security around an election has remained a major issue with the long-running bloody insurgency being waged by the Taliban. However, there is also the issue of US peace talks with the militants 18 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the group.

The Taliban has so far refused to talk with the Ghani government, which it considers illegitimate.

One of the suggested proposals would be allowing the Taliban to re-enter government.

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