The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Tuesday afternoon announced it has set the date for presidential elections for next year.
Sources familiar with the breakthrough in the IEC meanwhile said that the election management body took the decision after holding discussions with election watchdogs and some political parties.
The IEC said these elections will be held on April 20, six months after the October parliamentary and district council elections.
No further details were immediately available.
This comes after National Unity Government (NUG) leaders called on the IEC a week ago to announce the date for the 2019 presidential election as “soon as possible”.
According to a statement issued by the President’s Office at the time, President Ashraf Ghani met with IEC members, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Yamamoto, and various ambassadors of countries supporting the election process.
“At the meeting the leadership of the NUG asked the IEC to reassure the people about the (voter) registration process and provide facilities for political parties, civil society organizations and international observers to monitor the election process,” the statement read.
“President Ghani made it clear at the meeting that any outside influence, by anyone, including government employees, in the election process will be considered a crime and action will take,” read the statement.
CEO Abdullah Abdullah also said at last week’s Council of Ministers meeting that the IEC has been asked to announce the date for next year’s polls. He said “there should be no uncertainty over the will of the NUG for holding of elections.”
"This is the demand of the people that they have a transparent (election)," Abdullah said.
But, the political committee of the political parties and political movements have reiterated calls to the Afghan government and the IEC to make sure that the necessary amendments are introduced to the election system. They also reiterated that the IEC implement a biometric system for voters.
“UNAMA which we considered a neutral body has had some views in the past, it is not appropriate for them to speculate about this,” said Humayoun Jarir, a member of the political committee.
“Our basic demand is to change the (SNTV) system to (MDR) and biometrics for voters on election day,” added Jarir.
“We support the election process,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman Shahhussain Murtazawi.
The IEC has already said that it is too late to address the demands of the parties.
“At this juncture, we need to have a strong political consensus and the political parties must be part of that in order to prevent further confusion,” said Yousuf Rashid, CEO of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).
The political parties have alleged that there are over five million fake voters and these votes must be invalidated.
This new breakthrough takes places at a time that Afghanistan prepares for the parliamentary and district council elections on October 20. But there are speculations that millions of fake voters exist which will have a significant impacts on the credibility of the elections.
According to the IEC, so far around nine million people have registered to vote in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.
The political parties have been calling for changes to be brought to the electoral system, the suspension of the voter registration process, rolling out a biometric system for voter registration and declaring each province a single constituency.