Afghan election race kicks off as nominations open

2013-09-16 08:02
Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kabul - Candidate nominations opened on Monday for Afghanistan's presidential election, with a large field expected to register in the race to succeed Hamid Karzai as the US-led war winds down.

The election, due to take place on 5 April, will mark Afghanistan's first ever democratic transfer of power as Karzai steps aside after leading the country since the hard-line Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

The presidential race, from which Karzai is barred after serving two terms, is seen as the key test of 13 years of bloody international military intervention and billions of dollars of aid.

"So far, 27 people - both individuals and members of parties and coalitions - have collected registration forms for the presidential election," Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesperson Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP.

All potential runners must register with the IEC before 6 October, and a final list of verified candidates will be published on 16 November. No candidate is expected to launch their campaign on Monday.

Presidential hopefuls must be aged at least 40, not convicted of any crimes, provide 100 000 voter cards to prove they have a network of supporters, and also lodge a deposit of $18 000.

The tough new criteria were designed "to limit the number of runners", Noor said, after around 40 candidates stood in the chaotic 2009 election that was marred by massive fraud.

Safe environment

Karzai, a charismatic and mercurial figure, has dominated Afghan politics as the country has struggled to develop amid a fierce Taliban insurgency, and there are no obvious front-runners to succeed him.

He has vowed to oversee a free and fair election, and said he will not endorse any candidate, but international donor nations have expressed repeated concerns over the vote.

"Credible, inclusive, and transparent presidential and provincial elections in 2014 are now the most important element of Afghanistan's transition," US ambassador James Cunningham wrote in an article in the local media last week.

He called for "broad participation in the elections by men and women from all segments of Afghan society" - after low participation by women and Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group, in the 2009 vote.

Many Afghans fear a surge in violence during campaigning and on polling day, but the government has said its security forces will ensure a safe environment for the election.

Karzai recently said former warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, 2009 runner-up Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani were possible candidates.

With political manoeuvring well under way in Kabul, attention has now focused on low-profile Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul as a technocrat candidate from within Karzai's camp.

Rassoul could put together a broad-based ticket by signing up strongman of the north Atta Mohammad Noor and Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the ethnic Hazara minority, as his vice-presidential candidates.

Other potential runners include Qayum Karzai, the president's brother, and former interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali.

The election next year coincides with the withdrawal of 87 000 Nato combat troops as Afghan soldiers and police take charge of the battle against the Taliban.

Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  abdullah abdullah  |  hamid karzai  |  afghanistan

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.