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Afghan refugee vote drive hailed


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Afghan refugee vote drive hailed

An extended four-day registration drive in Pakistan is likely to create another 600,000 Afghan refugee voters for Saturday's election, organisers say.

The drive was extended to include Monday because of voter "enthusiasm", the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) said.

About 1,670 registration centres, which will also serve as polling stations, have been set up in western Pakistan.

Around another 600,000 Afghan refugees in Iran are expected to vote.

IOM media officer, Greg Bearup, told BBC News Online he expected 600,000 people would be registered by the end of Monday but that the figure could be higher.

Exact figures on the number of women among them were not known, but Mr Bearup said the number had been rising in "small increments" each day and could reach around 27%.

"Registration will definitely be ending today. We're pretty pleased with what we've got," Mr Bearup said.

Security measures

Refugees living in Iran and Pakistan could make up a significant 10% of the total vote for the presidential election.

However, up to another two million Afghans living in Pakistan will not have a vote.

A late decision on whether to register voters in Pakistan and Iran has meant entire refugee populations in the east and south-east of Pakistan will be excluded.

Iran has a register of Afghan refugees, making the process there much easier.

Around 20,000 local and international staff have been employed in Iran and Pakistan to help organise the vote.

IOM director Peter Erben said registration at the Pakistani centres had been smooth.

"We are extremely pleased that there has been no major security incident so far and we hope that the situation continues," Mr Erben said.

He said the Pakistani government's security measures had "reinforced confidence among the refugees that they can come for registration".

Afghanistan's former Taleban regime has urged Afghans to boycott the poll.

Taleban fighters in Afghanistan have targeted voters registering for the poll.

Story from BBC NEWS:


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