Afghan Presidential Election Delayed Until August
Presidential elections will not be held in Afghanistan until August 20th, the country's election commission has announced.
On Tuesday the commission ruled against President Hamid Karzai's call to hold the poll in April, citing voter security issues.
The head of the commission said it was not possible to hold the vote earlier.
Elections were due by May but had been postponed to August for security and logistical reasons - a delay that Mr Karzai challenged last weekend.
According to the Afghan constitution, elections must be held 30 to 60 days before the end of the president's five-year term on May 22nd. However President Karzai's opponents, as well as the US, Nato and the UN, had all opposed holding the vote at that time.
The decision to delay the vote has been widely welcomed by the international community.
On Wednesday, the US said:
"The United States welcomes the re-confirmation by the Independent Election Commission that elections will be held in August," Gordon Duguid, acting deputy spokesman at the US State Department, said in a statement.
Washington's shares the commission's "view that an August election is the best means to assure that every Afghan citizen is able to freely and fairly express his or her political preference in a secure environment," he said.
It also agrees with the commission that the date gives all candidates "an opportunity to participate on an equal basis in a transparent, fair, and open competition," Duguid said.
Nato said the delay would help it prepare to put strengthened security in place. Spokesman James Appathurai said:
"NATO and the secretary general welcome this decision by the Independent Election Commission because this date will provide, from a purely technical point of view, the time for the alliance to prepare properly, to bring in the forces and capabilities necessary to provide the maximum possible support to the electoral process," Appathurai told reporters.
Perhaps underscoring security issues in Afghanistan on Wednesday, there were two incidents aimed at US and Canadian troops.
As NowPublic member Cypresso reported, three Canadian soldiers were killed and two others wounded in a roadside bomb northwest of Kandahar. There were also two explosions outside the Bagram air base, used by American troops.