KABUL -- Afghanistan's election authorities have decided to delay a presidential election by three months to July 20, AFP reported, quoting the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad added in an announcement on December 30 that provincial and district council elections, as well as a previously postponed parliamentary vote in Ghazni Province, will be held on the same day, according to AFP.
IEC officials have recently admitted that they were considering pushing back the vote, which was expected in April 2019, due to delays in registration and ongoing technical issues.
"April will be very difficult because of the harsh winter and transporting election materials, security, and the budget issues," Sayyad told a news conference in Kabul. "To better prepare for the vote, we have decided to hold the election in July next year."
Candidate registration started on December 22 and was supposed to continue until January 2. But the date is likely to be extended due to the lack of registration by any candidate, IEC spokesman Zabi Sadat told RFE/RL on December 27.
The IEC is trying to avoid a repeat of widespread technical and logistical problems during the October parliamentary vote.
The IEC is still finalizing results of the parliamentary vote and observers had expressed concern that it would struggle to organize a presidential election in April.
The IEC had already considered delaying the poll once, but vowed in November to hold it on time.
The election is complicated by diplomatic efforts to start a formal peace process with the Taliban, whose representatives have met U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for several rounds of direct talks.
Khalilzad has said a peace deal with the militants could be reached by April.