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Afghanistan Considers Delaying April Presidential Election

Afghan employees of the Independent Election Commission unload ballot boxes at a polling station ahead of the election in Kandahar Province on October 26.

Afghanistan's election authorities are considering delaying a presidential election scheduled for April 2019, officials said, as they struggle to count votes cast in recent parliamentary elections.

The possible postponement comes as U.S. officials engage the Taliban in talks to end the 17-year war that some fear could be derailed by the April 20 presidential vote, which is expected to be fiercely contested.

Kubra Rezaie, a spokeswoman at the Independent Election Commission (IEC), said the presidential election could be delayed by three months but she said discussions were at an initial stage.

The October parliamentary elections came in for severe criticism over technical and logistical problems, resulting in thousands of registered complaints.

The IEC has announced preliminary results for parliamentary elections in 10 of the 33 Afghan provinces where voting took place.

But full results for all provinces are not expected until January, with election officials saying there would not be enough time to prepare for the presidential vote.

The election is complicated by diplomatic efforts to start a formal peace process with the Taliban, who have met U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for several rounds of preliminary talks.

Khalilzad told reporters in Kabul last week that a peace deal with the militants could be reached by April.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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