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Top political figures prepare for new presidential vote

Top political figures prepare for new presidential vote

Apr 09, 2017 - 18:24

KABUL (Pajhwok): With the next presidential elections penciled in for 2019, several political figures, including Ashraf Ghani, Atta Mohammad Noor, Omar Daudzai and Anwarul Haq Ahadi, are expected to run for the top constitutional slot.

The 2014 presidential elections were marred by allegations of blatant fraud. As a result, two candidates -- Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah -- claimed winning the vote. Then US secretary of state John Kerry brokered a deal between them on establishing the unity government.

Based on the agreement, the candidates winning the highest number of votes became president and the runner-up as chief executive office. Abdullah’s position is yet to be given constitutional cover.

With three years to go, Ashraf Ghani, Dr. Abdullah, Abdur Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Ahmad Zia Massoud, Eklil Hakimi, Omar Zakhilwal, Omar Daudzai and Anwarul Haq Ahadi are reportedly plan to contest the elections.

A team, with close ties to President Ashraf Ghani, has decided to support the incumbent leader in the 2019 presidential election. An official close to the president confirmed Ghani’s candidacy.

However, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah, who was one of the leading candidates in previous elections, has said nothing about the 2019 presidential fray.

Abdullah, a member of the Jamiat-i-Islami Afghanistan (JIA), was the second leading candidate after Ghani in the 2014 election. But the JIA may announce a new face for the upcoming election as relations between Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdullah have deteriorated.

Ahmad Munir Farhad, spokesman for Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, confirmed the strongman had decided to contest as an independent candidate for the president or first vice-president. Noor has talked to his colleagues about preparations for the next presidential ballot.

Omar Daudzai, former interior minister and a close figure to former president, Hamid Karzai, is also a probable candidate for the upcoming presidential election. He has already started his meetings with different national and international figures.

Syed Maisam Ehsani, who has close relations with Daudzai, said that the former interior minister would definitely contest the next presidential vote. “He is preparing for the coming election and will be one of the candidates.”

Erstwhile president Hamid Karzai said he had repeatedly explained that he did not have any active role in the current government. However, he is closely watching the situation and has many things to say, but no plan to take the government leadership again.

“My tenure has ended. I have been president for 14 years. I love this country and want it to have younger leaders with different views,” the ex-president commented.

Gulbadin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) and a prominent political figure, recently signed a peace agreement with the government. He promised playing an active role in the future presidential election.

Naqibullah Hashemi, a spokesman to HIA, said the party would have an active role in the coming presidential election. However, he hastened to add that no one had so far announced his candidacy.

Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Afghanistan’s New National Front (ANNF) head may also run for the president, said: “I want to be an independent candidate in the coming election, but it is too early to speak of political alignments.”

Concerned about possible fraud, he recalled anomalies in the 2014 election had thrown up the incumbent national unity government. The current dispensation might pave the ground for rigging in the next election too, he feared.

But the government has repeatedly promised holding the 2019 election in a more transparent and better-managed manner.