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Facts and figures about Afghanistan's election
September 17, 2005 11:45 IST
Afghans vote on Sunday to elect a national Parliament and provincial assemblies, the last formal step on a path to democracy laid out after United States-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.
Here are key facts and figures about the election:
About 2,760 candidates are running for 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, Parliament's lower house; with 68 seats reserved for women and 10 for Kuchi nomads.
About 3,015 candidates are running for a total of 420 seats in 34 provincial councils. A quarter of the seats on each council are reserved for women.
For Parliament, 12% of candidates are women; the figure is 8.1% for provincial councils.
All members of the Wolesi Jirga will be elected directly, with seats distributed by province in proportion to population.
The 12.5 million registered voters -- 41.6% -- will cast ballots at some 6,270 polling centers.
The 40 million ballot papers range from one to seven pages. Because many Afghans are illiterate, they feature photographs and symbols of the candidates.
More than 55,000 Afghan police and more than 28,000 Afghan National Army troops are to secure polling facilities. The 20,000-strong US-led coalition force and the 11,000-strong North Atlantic Treaty Organisation security force will provide backup.
Counting begins September 20, and partial provisional results will be released once 20% of the ballots in a province are tallied, which could be a day or two later.
Complete provisional results are expected by about October 4 to 6, and certified results around Octber 20 to 22, following a complaint period.
Taliban-led rebels, who have vowed to disrupt the polls, have stepped up attacks in the past six months, leaving more than 1,200 people dead, including five candidates and four election workers. Large chunks of volatile southern and eastern regions are off-limits to aid workers. The US-led coalition and a separate NATO-led peacekeeping force express confidence they can prevent major disruptions to the vote.
Electoral law bars anyone with links to armed groups from competing in the polls, and 32 candidates have been struck off the ballot as a result. But human rights groups say many others have slipped through a United Nations-backed vetting process, sparking concerns that the polls may bring to power some of the very warlords that they are aimed to sideline.
Hopes are high that the elections will be a major step forward for women's rights. The Taliban barred women from working, studying or travelling independently, and forced them to wear an all-encompassing burqa outdoors. There are 582 women candidates, and a quarter of seats in the National Assembly and all 34 Provincial Councils have been reserved for women. Female candidates have faced Taliban death threats and other security problems while struggling to campaign in a highly segregated society that bars women from talking to men alone unless they are related.
International Military Presence:
Washington is eager to withdraw some of its 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after the polls. It is due to hand over responsibility for security in the country's volatile south to NATO by mid-2006, and in the east some time thereafter. There are concerns that a fast pullout by American forces may embolden insurgents and leave the inexperienced NATO force to deal with them.
Source: Joint Election Management Body