The United Nations suggested Thursday that Afghanistan's elections may have to be postponed beyond September, but said a delay of a few days should not be seen as a major problem.

Election officials said that because the election date must be announced 90 days in advance, an announcement would have to be made Friday or Saturday if elections are to be held in September.

Mohammed Azam, a spokesman for the U.N.-backed Joint Electoral Management Body, said an announcement should not be expected Friday, a day of rest in the Muslim country, but insisted the deadline would be met. "We have no information about a delay," he said.

Earlier, the spokesman for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said at a news conference that there was a continuing debate about the election date.

"If elections are to take place in September, a date is needed very shortly," Manoel de Almeida e Silva said. "Of course, if the debate goes on, that would evidently have an impact on the election date, which if it is a matter of days or so shouldn't be seen as a major drama."

The elections, originally scheduled for June, have already been postponed because of security worries and slow voter registration. Unless they are held by mid-October, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the onset of winter could force their postponement until next spring.