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Delayed Afghan Poll Scheduled For July 20

The tensions prompted the U.S. to intervene and mediate a deal between the two men that led to the formation of the so-called unity government in Kabul

afghanistan, elections
Afghan men line up to cast their votes during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 21, 2018. VOA

Electoral authorities in Afghanistan have delayed by three months next year’s presidential election and it will now be held on July 20.

The head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said Sunday the delay would give his institution more time to fix technical issues and overcome related challenges “to better prepare for the election.”

The IEC chairman, Gula Jan Abdul Bade Sayad, explained to reporters in Kabul the election was organically set for April 20 but harsh winter, security challenges and financial constraints were hampering preparations and the transportation of election materials for organizing the vote on time.

He said the elections in Ghazni province, as well as district and provincial council elections, would be held on the same day as the presidential elections.

Afghan President, elections
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a U.N. conference on Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2018, at U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

The unity government of incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, who intends to seek a second five-year term, has welcomed the delay though it had previously insisted the polls would be held on time.

Sunday’s announcement comes as IEC officials are still struggling to tally votes cast in October’s parliamentary elections mired in controversy. The polls were held in 33 of the 34 provinces. So far, the IEC has announced preliminary results for 31 provinces.

The elections in central eastern Ghanzi province could not be held due to insecurity and increased influence of Taliban insurgents in many of its districts. Election officials also cited a dispute over representation between different ethnic groups in Ghazni.

Criticism stemming from long delays at polling stations, faulty voter lists, malfunctioning biometric voter verification equipment and insurgent attacks to try to disrupt the October elections continue to haunt the integrity of the entire process.

IEC chief Sayad said his institution is working hard to fix the problems so the mistakes are not repeated and a fair presidential election is organized.

Afghanistan, elections
In this Sept. 21, 2014, photo, Afghanistan’s then presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Ashraf Ghani leave after signing a power-sharing deal at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

Some critics have linked the delay to ongoing talks between the United States and the Taliban for finding a negotiated end to the Afghan war. They say the delay would allow more time to U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, to jump start negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban to pave the ground for an election inclusive of insurgents.

But Afghan officials have dismissed those suggestions while the Taliban has ruled out the possibility of it engaging in direct peace talks with Kabul.

Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election was marred by massive fraud and vote rigging, with both Ghani and his rival candidate, Abdullah Abdullah both claiming victories.

Also Read: Peace Talks with Afghanistan Will Yield ‘Very Positive’ Results: Saudi Arabia

The tensions prompted the U.S. to intervene and mediate a deal between the two men that led to the formation of the so-called unity government in Kabul, with Ghani as the present and Abdullah as the chief executive of the country. (VOA)

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More Than 7,000 People in Afghanistan Infected with HIV: WHO Report

Another HIV patient Omar, said: "If we go to hospitals and tell them that we have HIV Aids, they don't treat us."

A study by WHO revealed that most of the European women with HIV are diagnosed at a late stage. Wikimedia Commons

Some 7,200 people in Afghanistan were estimated to be HIV positive, according to figures released by the the World Health Organization (WHO).

Marking World Aids Day, the WHO on Sunday called for a broader public awareness campaign in Afghanistan to deal with the issue, reports TOLO News.

But the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said that it registered only 2,883 cases of HIV in the country.

“According to our statistics, there are 2,883 cases of HIV registered in the country. The 7,200 cases reported by the World Health Organization are only an estimate,” said Fida Mohammad Paikan, deputy minister of public health.

Stimulation of the wound healing response during early infection could have a protective effect against disease like AIDS from the HIV infection. Pixabay

Referring to factors behind the spread of the virus, Paikan said: “Last year the Ministry of Public Health registered 183 cases of HIV, and the figure has decreased to 150 new cases this year. But we need to undertake a comprehensive study to determine the exact number of those suffering from the disease.”

Victims however, have complained of social discrimination.

Also Read: Smartphones Hotspots of Cyberattacks in India: Check Point

Mohammad Idris, who contracted the disease from an infected needle during a drug injection, told TOLO News: “We are facing a lot of problems because we cannot share about our illness with others.”

Another HIV patient Omar, said: “If we go to hospitals and tell them that we have HIV Aids, they don’t treat us.” (IANS)