Afghan authorities extend voter registration until Friday in some areas UN

Registrations will continue in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul and the southeastern provinces of Ghazni and Paktika, where enrolments opened only recently and have been comparatively low. Registration ended in all other provinces yesterday.UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters on Sunday that more than 9.9 million have received voter cards since registrations began in December last year. Almost 42 per cent of these voters are women – a remarkable figure given the harsh restrictions they suffered under the Taliban.The Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), which brings together the Afghan authorities and the UN, had estimated there are about 9.8 million eligible voters. The figures are inexact as there has not been an accurate census since the 1970s because of decades of war and Taliban misrule.Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the estimate was also made before the recent large-scale return of refugees to Afghanistan.Asked about the potential for multiple registrations in those enrolled so far, he said JEMB staff have conducted checks to identify the extent of the problem. He added that all voters will have their fingers marked with indelible ink on the day they vote to prevent them voting twice.Presidential elections are scheduled for 9 October, while national and local parliamentary polls have been slated for April next year.Mr. de Almeida e Silva also said it would be difficult to determine whether any of the registered voters are under-age because almost no Afghans have identity cards or birth certificates.In addition to the registered voters inside Afghanistan, refugees still living in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan will be eligible to vote. JEMB estimates about 800,000 people in Iran and between 1.5 million and 2 million people in Pakistan could vote.Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the International Organization of Migration (IOM) will conduct enrolments in Iran and Pakistan on behalf of JEMB.Meanwhile, there have been demonstrations by university students and women in the western city of Herat against the fighting around an airbase in the nearby town of Shindand since Friday night. Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the demonstrators delivered a letter to UNAMA officials in Herat calling for peace.