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News and Views

Date for Afghan Presidential Election Set

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission has announced that the country's second ever presidential election will be held on August 20, 2009. The election, which was originally slated to be held in May, was delayed due to logistical concerns.

Voter registration has been taking place throughout the country since October 2008, starting with 14 provinces in northern and central Afghanistan and proceeding to the rest of the country during four phases. Despite isolated problems, officials from the Independent Election Commission report that the process has gone smoothly so far . According to UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan Kai Aide, some 3.4 million voter cards were distributed from October 2008 to January 2009.

Though security remains a concern for the elections, recent surveys have found that the Afghan people widely support a democratic government and have faith in elections as a mechanism to express themselves. According to the Asia Foundation's 2008 Survey of Afghanistan, almost 70 percent of the Afghan people are "very satisfied" or "fairly satisfied" with how democracy works in Afghanistan. Additionally, 65 percent of the Afghan people stated that voting can lead to future improvements in the country and an average of 70 percent of the Afghan people expressed confidence that the government could conduct free and fair elections.

The 2004 election saw 18 candidates vie for Afghanistan's presidency, with President Hamid Karzai emerging the victor. Over 10 million people registered to vote for the election, and turnout stood at 70 percent. Women represented over 40 percent of all voters.

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