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Afghans Use Donkeys To Prepare Presidential Vote

Using Officials And Donkeys, Afghans Prepare For Historic Presidential Vote

The people of Afghanistan will vote on 9 October in the first presidential election in their history with the help of more than 115,000 polling officials, 100,000 voting screens and 300 donkeys, the United Nations mission to the country said today as it unveiled details of the final preparations taking place.

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters in Kabul that the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) - the UN-Afghan organization charged with running the polling process - has delivered the vast majority of election materials to its provincial offices, where they are now being sent to individual polling sites.

Training staff across the country are currently teaching 5,000 polling centre supervisors about their duties on 9 October. These supervisors will in turn instruct an estimated 115,000 or more polling officials, Mr. de Almeida e Silva said. A budget of $6.1 million has also been set aside to pay for the polling officials and polling centre supervisors.

Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the voting screens, used to protect a person's privacy when they cast their ballot, are being constructed locally in each region using available resources, so they may not look identical nationwide. "They are being made primarily with metal, wood or cardboard," he said.

Election assistance is also coming from a non-human source - donkeys. Some 300 of the animals are being used to deliver voting materials in the provinces of Badakhshan and Nuristan in the northeast, Farah in the southwest and Panjshir, not far from Kabul.

More than 10 million Afghans, including at least 4 million women, have been registered to vote. Between 1 million and 1.4 million refugees still living in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan are also expected to cast their ballots.

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