KABUL - As consultations on the voter registration drive continue, the Independent Election Commission ('IEC) chief on Tuesday said an exact date of the presidential ballot would be announced within month.
Addressing a media briefing in Kabul, Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the body planned fresh registration of voters, but the Karzai administration and the international community did not support the idea.
The $80 million (4.1 billion Afghanis) plan had to be dropped due to a paucity of funds, he said, lamenting that big donors were not willing to fund the otherwise viable project.
Also on Tuesday, the IEC invited representatives of political parties and civil society organisations to discussions on mechanisms for voter registration and transparency in the elections.
Zakaria Barakzai, the IEC Secretariat head, told Pajhwok Afghan News that civil society and political parties wanted the government to issue electronic identity cards to all Afghans until 2014.
Participants of the meeting suggested that civil society representatives, having the required experience and qualifications, be given a role in monitoring the electoral process, Barakzai added.
Manawi said they were in the thick of preparations to conduct the polls in a free and fair fashion. Efforts were being made to create a reliable system of preventing fraud and irregularities, he continued.
Speaking on the occasion, civil society member Ahmad Saeedi said the authorities should have issued computerized identity cards to voters, if they really desired to hold genuine polls. He feared anomalous registration of voters would result in fraudulent polls.
A member of the Afghanistan National Coalition (ANC), Mohammad Asim, noted a new voter registration drive and the issuance of electronic identity cards were central to a fair election.
"Our country is faced with a whole host of problems, including insecurity. The election project will indubitably run into snags if new voter lists are not compiled," he warned.
According to the panel, presidential and provincial council elections will be held simultaneously in March 2013. In addition to the $80 million needed for voter registration, the electoral process is expected to cost $150 million. (Pajhwok)