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Afghanistan Prepares Rehearsal For Oct. 9 National Election

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2004 – The Afghan government is preparing to conduct a dress rehearsal for the country's Oct. 9 presidential election.

The date of the exercise, which will address voting procedures, logistics and security, will be announced later, a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan official said Sept. 6.

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, the U.N.'s International Security Assistance Force, and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan will assist the Afghan government in conducting the exercise, the spokesman said.

More than 8 million Afghans, out of an estimated eligible voting population of 9 million, have registered to vote in the election, according to research by the Institute for Afghan Studies. Forty-one percent of registered Afghan voters are women. The Institute for Afghan Studies is a nonprofit, non-political and independent organization, founded and run by young Afghan scholars from around the globe. The mission of the institute, according to its Web site, is to be a center for research and a credible source of information about Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai is on the list of candidates along with 17 others - including a woman -- hoping to be chosen for Afghanistan's highest office. Afghan parliamentary elections are slated for the spring of 2005.

The new Afghan army is being counted upon to contribute heavily to security needs for the elections, the command spokesman said. In fact, the official said, recent Afghan National Army operations "have greatly honed the skills and abilities of ANA soldiers and units and will enhance the effectiveness of their performance in the election security mission."

Reconstruction missions continue across Afghanistan, the official noted, with the opening of more roads, schools and hospitals. In Gardez, for example, project assessments began for the building of two schools, an irrigation well, and a possible hydroelectric plant.

The program to gather weaponry turned in by disbanded militia also continues, the official said. About 1,300 heavy weapons have been turned in to the ANA in the regions in and near Kabul, Gardez, Mazar-e Sharif, and Jalalabad. Heavy weapons turn-ins are expected to start in Konduz sometime this week.

However, anti-Afghan-government activity continues, with insurgent forces attacking pro-government and coalition troops in Oruzgan Province Sept. 4. No coalition casualties occurred during the fighting, and two suspected enemy fighters were later captured and detained for questioning, the official said.

In another Sept. 4 attack, a U.S. Protections and Investigations vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device in Gazni Province. No one was injured in the explosion. Afghan soldiers detained two suspects at the scene.

Coalition forces in Afghanistan also fought insurgent troops in Zabul Province Sept. 4, killing two of the enemy and wounding one. The injured enemy was taken to a coalition medical facility for treatment.

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
United Nations
Institute for Afghan Studies

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