Afghanistan will delay holding presidential elections until 20 August, the election commission has announced.
Under the country’s constitution, the vote should have been held in May, but the deteriorating security situation has prompted a postponement.
It would be only the second time Afghanistan has held elections to choose a head of state.
The delay has come as little surprise to many. Much of the south and east is too unsafe for a free and fair vote.
The BBC’s Ian Pannell in Kabul says even the process of registering people to vote has had to be put on hold in some districts.
The hope is that the injection of thousands of extra US troops will create a safer environment for elections to take place, our correspondent says.
But some leading political figures in Kabul are sceptical that this can be done in such a short space of time.
A member of parliament in Afghanistan’s National Assembly, Shukria Barakzai, told the BBC that unless security in the country improved it was possible the election would be further postponed.
“There is still no guarantee it will be a fair and fine election in August. In some of the districts which are still out of control of the government of Afghanistan, how can we say that there will elections for them?”
There are a number of potential challengers to President Hamid Karzai, whose popularity has steadily fallen.
He has been looking increasingly isolated in the last few weeks with growing tensions between him and the new administration in Washington.
Some have suggested that rather than an election, there should be a loya jirga, or tribal meeting, to anoint a new leader – but for now that looks like a remote possibility, according to our correspondent.
He says the country has staked its future on a democratic path and although progress has been limited and deeply flawed there seem few other alternatives at this time to a second presidential election – delayed or not.