Afghanistan Elections: With 38 Days To Election Day, A Look At The Candidates

By Isheta Salgaocar

The Afghanistan Presidential elections will take place on April 4, 2014. This is the third time since the end of the Taliban rule that polls will be conducted. Current President Hamid Karzai has exhausted his possible terms in office (assuming office in 2001 as Chairman of the Transitional Administration, and winning polls in 2004 and 2009), and there are 11 candidates in the race for President. Karzai has not publicly endorsed any candidate, and his spokesman, Aimal Kaizi, said no endorsement would be made.

Meet the candidates:

Of the 27 candidates registered for the elections but only 11 were approved by the Independent Election Commission to run:

  1. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah:

    Abdullah, a member of the National Coalition had served as the Foreign Minister under Hamid Karzai from 2001 to 2005. He hails from Kabul, and dropped out of a 2009 runoff presidential election in Afghanistan. He is considered the most serious candidate outside of the Pashtun ethnicity. Recently, two of his aides Shujahudeen and Dr Faiz Ahmad Hamdard were shot dead.

  2. Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy:

    Sultanzoy served as a representative in Afghanistan’s lower national legislature in 2005. Prior to election he was a pilot for United Airlines. He is currently an anchor on TOLO TV, a major Afghan news and entertainment channel.

  3. Abdul Rahim Wardak:

    Wardak served as the Minister of Defense in Afghanistan from 2004-2012. In that time he became a critical mediator between Afghanistan and the Bush administration and more generally NATO. He resigned from a post of being an advisor to Karzai to run in these elections.

  4. Quayum Karzai:

    Karzai, the elder brother of current president Karzai, was a businessman in the U.S. before serving in the lower house of Aghanistan’s national assembly. He is associated with a platform of pro-western Reformism. President Karzai refuses to back him. He runs the Baltimore restaurant The Helmand, but is believed to have given up US citizenship for the election.

  5. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai:

    Ahmadzai previously ran in the 2009 presidential election, and ranked fourth in the polls. Prior to running, he had served as the finance minister under Karzai from 2002 to 2004. He has received a degree in anthropology from Columbia and is an expert on state effectiveness.

  6. Sardar Mohammad Nadir Naeem:

    Naeem is the grandson of the former King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan; he fled to the United Kingdom during the overthrow of the monarchy in 1973. He returned to the state from the United Kingdom in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban government.

  7. Zalmai Rasoul:

    Zalmai has served as the Foreign Minister since January 2010. Prior to that he held the position of National Security Advisor. He has played an vital role in Afghanistan’s readmission to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

  8. Qutbuddin Hilal:

    Hilal is an Independent candidate, and formerly served as Deputy Prime Minister in 1993 while Burhanuddin Rabbani was President.

  9. Gul Agha Sherzoi:

    Sherzoi is unning as an independent candidate; he is the former governor of Eastern Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, where he is believed to have made large sums of money. He previously served as Governor of Southern Kandahar province. He was born Mohammad Shafiq.

  10. Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf:

    Sayyaf, is a former militant leader and staunch Islamist leader, and umoured to have ties with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. He was the only major candidate not to appear in the first debate. His signature initiative during his stint in Parliament was trying to enact a law granting amnesty to those accused of war crimes and tried to repeal the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act.

  11. Hidayat Amin Arsala:

    Arasala served as the first Finance Minister and Vice Chairman and the first Minister of Finance in post-Taliban Afghanistan. A prominent economist and is a member of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan

Click here for link of candidates in Pashto

Candidates who were eliminated:

Bismillah Shir, Fazl Karim Najmi, Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, Sayed Ishaq Gilani, Sarwar Ahmadzai, Hamidullah Qadiri, Daoud Sultanzoy, Aziz Ludin, Anwar Ahadi, Salman Ali Dostzada, Farooq Azam, Mrs. Khadija Ghaznawi, Nader Shah Ahmadzai, Abdul Hadi Dabir, Noor Rahman Liwal and Dawar Nadin.

According to IEC officials the reason for most of the disqualifications was that candidates failed to meet the 100,000 supporting voter cards threshold that the Commission put in place this year, or that candidates held dual-citizenships.

Looking forward:

Security during the elections is of obvious concern – election officials indicated that 414 out of 6,845 total polling stations country-wide would likely remain closed in April due to security threats.

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