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Election 2009

Afghanistan plans presidential elections in late 2009 and parliamentary polls around the middle of the following year, the election body said on Wednesday.

The election commission, the U.N. and President Hamid Karzai had proposed holding the polls simultaneously to reduce the cost and due to the prevailing security situation.

However, Zekria Barakzai, spokesman for the commission, said due to political disagreement among the parties and politicians in parliament, it was decided to hold separate elections.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't find a political consensus on that issue. That is why it was decided that we will have two rounds of elections," Barakzai told a news conference.

"It will be 2009 fall for presidential elections and for provincial councils ... and in the summer 2010 it will be for the lower house of the parliament ... and district council elections," he said.

The 2009 election will be the second direct vote for the presidency in Afghanistan's history. The first was in 2004 when President Karzai, picked after the Taliban's fall to lead the country in 2001, won a five-year term. Foreign donors spent more than $359 million for the first round of presidential and the parliamentary polls in 2005.

Barakzai said donors will contribute funds for the next elections too, but he did not know how much and had no estimate for the total cost either.