Afghanistan's Independent Elections Commission announced that voting for presidential and provincial council elections will take place on August 20, 2009. Before making its decision, the Commission consulted widely regarding logistical and security aspects of the timing of elections.
The Director of the Independent Elections Commission, Azizullah Lodin, said the Commission chose the earliest possible date to enable as many Afghans as possible to participate in the elections.
James Appathurai, spokesman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said the date chosen will give NATO "sufficient time to properly prepare to support the Afghan government in ensuring enough security for the elections to go forward." A 50,000 strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is working with the government of Afghanistan to meet the security needs of the Afghan people.
The United States welcomes the decision of the Independent Elections Commission and renews its pledge to fully support free, fair, and secure elections. In addition to assistance to Afghan security forces and a provision of U.S. forces to ISAF to help protect voter registration sites, the U.S. has contributed more than $65 million to support the country's voter registration process.
The U.S. congratulates the Commission for its success in registering nearly 4 million new voters across the country and will continue our support to the registration process.
On October 9, 2004, Afghanistan held its first democratic presidential election. More than 8 million Afghans voted, 41 percent of whom were women. An election was held on September 18, 2005 for the "Wolesi Jirga" (lower house) of Afghanistan's new bicameral National Assembly and for the country's 34 provincial councils. Turnout for the elections was about 53 percent of the 12.5 million registered voters.
The U.S. remains fully committed to working with its NATO Allies to helping secure the fundamental right of the Afghan people to free, fair, and secure elections.