KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) Thursday announced the schedule for parliamentary elections, saying voting would take place on May 22. IEC Secretary Daud Ali Najafi, unveiling the calendar at a press conference here, hoped that the step would help all political parties and individuals to get prepared for the important elections. The project would cost $120 million, he said, adding an amount of $70 million from the budget for the previous elections was already there. The international community has pledged to provide the remainder. If the global fraternity did not provide the requisite funds, Najafi explained, the Afghan government would arrange the money on its own. Najafi said each election candidate would have to deposit 300 voter cards with their fingerprints and 10,000 afghanis with the commission. Ballot papers will not be sent to high-risk areas, he continued. He urged the public and political forces to help the IEC in ensuring transparent elections to the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga, Lower House of Parliament, where provinces have quotas based on their population. Article 85 of the Constitution about the qualifications of a candidate states he/she should be an Afghan citizen, not convicted of any crime. The contender should be at least 25 years old at the date of submitting nomination papers to the IEC. The schedule is: The candidate registration process from January 16 to January 22; nomination of candidates from January 23 to February 6; preparation of preliminary list of candidates from February 7 to February 13; voter registration at provincial offices February 20 to April 19; display of preliminary candidates' list and challenges, corrections and appeals from February 14 to February 20; ECC hearing and decisions from 14 February to 5 March; ECC to inform IEC of decisions on nominees on 6 March; preparation of a final list of candidates from 13 February to 7 March; and display of final list of candidates on February 14. The IEC will finalise ballot designs from 15 to 21 March. The final ballot designs will be sent for publication on 23 March. The printing and delivery of ballot papers will take place between 23 March and 21 April. The campaign period beginning on 15 will end on 19 May while ballots will arrive in Kabul on 21 April. Packing of kits and distribution of ballot papers to provinces and polling centres will take place between 22 April and 21 May. Polling and counting will happen on May 22. From 23 May to 10 June, retrieval of results will from counting centres to the National Tally Centre will be completed. From 11 June to 25 June, data (results) will be entered in the system. The preliminary outcome would be unveiled pending decisions on complaints. On 27 July, the ECC will send its final decisions on complaints to the IEC, followed by the announcement of the final results on 30 July. mnm/mud

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