Amid fears of economic and technical shortcomings and also bad weather conditions, officials from the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) hinted on Monday that the presidential elections could be delayed by three months.
Presidential elections are scheduled to be held on April 20 next year, which will mark the end of President Ashraf Ghani’s five-year rule.
IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad said it would be “difficult” to hold the elections on April-20 as planned because of economic and technical issues and bad weather condition the country has during that days and instead suggested 13 of July as date for the country’s presidential elections.
The IEC said that the election management body has prepared the electoral calendar for 2019 presidential elections, but the official announcement of the date will be made once the IEC reaches a decision regarding the issue with political parties and observers.
But officials from the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) quickly criticized the statement by the election commission, saying that considering the delay in the elections was against the constitution.
On Monday, the IEC convened its first consultative meeting with election observers and representatives of the political parties.
The IEC argues that it will be difficult for the election commission to hold the elections on the 20 of April because of economic and technical issues and also bad weather conditions.
"There is a lot of work that should be done before the date that we have announced for elections," Sayyad said.
The IEC also suggested that district and provincial council elections including Ghazni’s parliamentary elections should be held at the same time as presidential elections.
"The election commission suggests that the elections should be held on 13 of July 2019," Sayed Hafiz Hashemi, a spokesman for IEC said.
"This calendar is in contradiction, at least in relation to the presidential elections, with the Constitution," Ali Reza Rouhani, spokesman for the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission said.
But the IEC chief says that the decision to delay the elections is a political decision.
"Now the decision is a political decision," Abdul Badi Sayad said.
Observers meanwhile said that the election commission officials are not capable of holding presidential elections.
This comes a day after President Ashraf Ghani’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah said the option of an interim administration is not possible as it is too late and that the country has no other option except to hold presidential elections.
“There are discussions at a social level about an interim administration and non-interim administration and these things, but the way (forward) is the continuation of the political process and holding elections. When we remove elections from the way, then we lose elections and the entire way we have come through,” said Abdulalh.
Reports surfaced in the media recently that elections could possibly be delayed as part of the efforts being made to persuade the Taliban to come to the negotiations table.
But the election commissions said that the peace process has nothing to do with the electoral process.
“Not at all, the peace process has nothing to do with delaying the elections,” said IEC deputy spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi on Sunday.
Based on the constitution, the legal tenure of the National Unity Government (NUG) under President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah comes to an end on May next year and the IEC is supposed to organize the elections on April.