Donkeys help transport Afghan ballots

PANJSHIR VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) - August 17, 2009 Some 3,100 burros have been hired to carry the poll materials, underscoring the logistical difficulties facing election officials in one of the world's poorest countries, where a violent insurgency also threatens the vote.

On Monday, donkeys loaded with election materials made their way through a washed-out road winding through the towering Hindu Kush range north of Kabul. No car or truck can traverse there.

"Now we use the animals to transport the election materials," said election worker Abdul Hashim, who oversaw the transport of the items to Baba Ali village of Panjshir province.

The animals carried the materials in blue plastic boxes tied to their backs. Armed policemen walked alongside them.

Some 17 million registered voters are eligible to cast ballots Thursday to choose Afghanistan's next president and provincial council members. Aside from a lack of infrastructure, the threat of the Taliban insurgency is rattling the vote.

Authorities have been forced to abandon plans to open hundreds of polling stations because of security concerns.

Of 7,000 polling centers originally planned for across the country, voting can take place in 6,600 of them, Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said.

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