Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah Face Off Again for Presidency
January 21, 2019
Kabul- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah joined a field of 17 candidates for July’s presidential election as nominations closed yesterday.
Other prominent contenders for the post include Hanif Atmar.
Each candidate has two vice presidents also running on their ticket.
The July 20 election is being held three months late because of security concerns and to fix logistical problems faced in Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections in October.
After weeks of rapidly shifting alliances among the main political players, President Ghani named the former NDS Chief, Amrullah Saleh, as his pick for first vice president.
Mr. Saleh was appointed interior minister last month but resigned on Saturday to be able to register for the election.
President Ghani won the 2014 presidential election after a run-off vote against Dr. Abdullah, who accused him of fraud and refused to accept the result.
Dr. Abdullah relented after the US brokered an agreement for a national unity government under which he was given the newly created post of chief executive and President Ghani delegated some powers.
For this election, Dr Abdullah has the support of the Junbish party led former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, which gives him the support of Afghanistan’s Uzbek minority, and the Wahdat party of Karim Khalili, former vice president and a leader of the Hazara ethnic minority.
Dr. Abdullah is also backed by a section of Jamiat-i-Islami, one of the biggest opposition parties that is dominated by the Tajik ethnic group, even though its influential leader Atta Mohammad Noor has declared support to Mr. Atmar.
Mr. Atmar is running alongside former vice president Yunus Qanooni and the current deputy chief executive, Mohammad Mohaqiq.
“Mr Atmar has agreed to many of the demands made by Mr Noor, including changing the government structure to legitimize the position of a prime minister in the constitution,” a party source said. “That was very important to Mr. Noor.”
“Among other demands are representation of all ethnicities in the future government, as well as giving more power and authority to the governors of provinces to act independently in certain matters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hekmatyar, who returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan in 2017 after receiving a government pardon, sought to form a political alliance with the Taliban but was rebuffed by the militants.
The insurgents reject the elections and often refer to the Afghan government in Kabul as a “puppet regime”.
Mr Hekmatyar has registered Fazal Wazin and Qazi Ur Rehman Naqi, members of his Hizb-e-Islami party, as his vice presidential candidates.
The next task for Afghan election officials is to check the eligibility of the candidates and verify the 100,000 endorsements from citizens that each must produce.
“Their IDs, documents as well as the 100,000 tazkeras [national IDs] provided will be evaluated,” Independent Election Commission deputy spokesman Mirza Haqparast said.
“Those cleared will then move to the primary list of candidates”, the spokesman added.
The incumbent President Ghani sustains his credibility and popularity among the majority people, especially the youth of the country and emerge as power presidential candidate. President Ghani’s pick of Amrullah Saleh as his first Vice President has widely commended by the Afghan Masses across the country.