Newspaper article International New York Times

Commission Sets Date for Election in Afghanistan ; Government Officials Denounce Long-Delayed Plan as Illegitimate

Newspaper article International New York Times

Commission Sets Date for Election in Afghanistan ; Government Officials Denounce Long-Delayed Plan as Illegitimate

Article excerpt

A spokesman for the government's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, denounced the date because requested electoral changes had not been enacted.

The Afghan election commission has set an Oct. 15 date for long- delayed parliamentary and district council elections. But the announcement immediately raised fears of new political deadlock after the country's power-sharing government denounced the plan as illegitimate.

In announcing the date on Monday, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the chief of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, evidently did not coordinate with the government. And a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the government's chief executive, criticized the scheduling because the electoral changes he had demanded had not gone through.

"The current election commission has no legitimacy because it was their weak management of the previous election that brought us on the brink of chaos," said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah. "Reforming the election process is a precondition to any election, and a part of the larger reform is the changing of current commission officials."

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani could not be reached for comment, but Mr. Faisal insisted that he was speaking for the whole government, not just for Mr. Abdullah. The Afghan unity government, brokered by the United States after the bitter election dispute between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah in 2014 threatened to tear the country apart, is in a race against time to meet the requirements of the political agreement it was founded on, set to expire in October.

That agreement requires the government to hold local elections, which are already months overdue, by the time it completes two years in office in October. It is also supposed to have convened a grand assembly of elders from across the country by October to amend the Constitution and create the position of prime minister for Mr. Abdullah to move into.

Pressure from political opposition groups has been increasing on Mr. …

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