Afghanistan and Taliban Reach Election Truce in District

0728-for-webKABULmapKABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government said Monday that it had arranged a truce with a group of Taliban in a district in northern Afghanistan in order to allow elections to go ahead on Aug. 20 and allow development projects to proceed in the area.
Local elders negotiated the truce with the local Taliban commander in the Balamorghab district of Badghis Province, and the commander agreed to have election officials open a registration office in the area, said Ahmad Zia Siamak Herawi, a deputy spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.

The deal is one of several local arrangements election officials have managed to secure through negotiations with local elders to persuade the Taliban and other opposition groups to allow the elections to go ahead, the chief of Afghanistan’s election commission, Azizullah Ludin, said in an interview.

People wanted to participate in the elections — in particular, provincial council elections — in order to have their own representatives in power, he said, and local Taliban leaders in some places were bowing to the pressure of the communities to let them happen.

The Taliban have also agreed to allow government development projects to go forward in the Balamorghab area and for construction of the main highway, which circles Afghanistan, to proceed through the district, Mr. Herawi said.

Officials were still working out how to provide security for the polling centers in the district, Mr. Herawi said. Afghan police officers are supposed to guard polling stations across the country for the elections, but the Taliban were refusing to allow the local police into Balamorghab, according to local press reports.

While local agreements have seemed possible in the north, heavy fighting in southern and eastern provinces are likely to cause widespread disruption in voting, military officials say. American and British casualties have risen sharply amid an offensive in those regions.

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