With the media looking on, President George W. Bush reaches out to shake hands with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan after a joint press availability Monday, May 23, 2005, in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse
I've got great faith in the future in Afghanistan. First, I've got great faith in the ability of democracy to provide hope." President Bush, May 23, 2005
"We have, as of yesterday -- as of the day before yesterday, over 5,000 candidates for the national assembly and for the provincial assemblies. There are women from all the provinces of the country will be coming to the parliament. So the country is moving forward." Afghan President Hamid Karzai, May 23, 2005
"Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. Afghanistan is a key partner in the global war on terror. Our troops have fought and will continue to fight side-by-side to defeat the few who want to stop the ambitions of the many." President Bush, May 23, 2005
"The United States has been the country with whose help we have rebuilt our country, are in the process of rebuilding our country. And you have been at the forefront of that effort with us in Afghanistan and in the rest of the world. I'm here today to thank you, Mr. President, once again for your leadership in providing Afghanistan the security, the reconstruction, and the freedoms that the Afghan people have today." Afghan President Hamid Karzai, May 23, 2005
On July 26, 2003, the Government of Afghanistan established the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), a 13-member independent body (consisting of 9 Afghan and 4 international commissioners), to oversee the electoral process during the transitional period in Afghanistan.
The JEMB Secretariat is the executive arm of the JEMB and is responsible for implementation of the electoral operation. The JEMB Secretariat will have 6,000 Afghan and 425 international staff active in 8 regional and 34 provincial offices.
More than 10 million Afghans (41% of them women) registered to vote in the October 2004 presidential election.
For Afghans who did not register to vote last year, the JEMB conducted voter registration from June 25 through July 21. Over 1.5 million new voter registration cards were issued, 44% were to women voters.
To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 years old and a citizen of Afghanistan.
On September 18, voters will directly elect representatives to the 249-person Lower House (Wolesi Jirga or House of People) of the National Assembly. Seat allocations in the Lower House are proportional to the population of the provinces.
Afghan citizens over the age of 25 who are registered to vote, have not been convicted of committing a crime against humanity, and who do not have ties to illegal armed militia groups are eligible to run as candidates for the National Assembly.
A total of 2,707 candidates (582 women) are registered.
Voters will also elect members of 34 provincial councils, the size of which are determined by the population of the province. Provincial Councils will participate in the development of the provinces and improvement of provincial administration.
Afghan citizens who are at least 18 years old, are registered to vote, and have not been convicted of committing a crime against humanity can be nominated as candidates for the Provincial Councils.
A total of 3,025 Afghans (279 of them women) have been nominated as candidates for the Provincial Councils.
Once elected, each Provincial Council will elect one of its members to sit in the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders) of the National Assembly.
Under the Afghan Constitution, the 102-person Upper House also includes representatives indirectly elected by district councils (34) and representatives appointed by the President (34).
District Council elections were originally scheduled to take place at the same time as the Lower House and Provincial Council elections. Since district numbers, boundaries and population figures have yet to be determined, District Council elections will not be held in 2005. The National Assembly, once constituted, will be tasked by the President to resolve the district issues.
In order to maintain balance between indirectly elected members and presidential appointees, it is anticipated that President Karzai will appoint only half of his representatives to the Upper House (17) which will sit with 51 members until District Elections have taken place.
Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police forces, with support from Coalition and NATO/ISAF forces, stand ready toimplement a comprehensive security strategy to ensure that extremist elements do not disrupt the electoral process.