News / Asia

Afghanistan Moves Closer To Historic Political Transition

Ashraf Ghani, former Afghan finance minister, center, joins hands with his supporters after registering his candidacy in next year's presidential election, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.
Ashraf Ghani, former Afghan finance minister, center, joins hands with his supporters after registering his candidacy in next year's presidential election, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Election authorities in Afghanistan have wrapped up a three-week process of registering candidates for next April’s crucial presidential vote. By the end of the deadline on Sunday, about 20 political heavyweights, including Islamist warlords, had submitted their candidacies for the country’s top office. 

While the list of registered contenders for the April 5 presidential election has ended weeks of speculation over who is going to seek to replace President Hamid Karzai, the race remains wide open, with no clear front-runner. 

Several prominent Afghan personalities were among the candidates who filed nominations to the Independent Election Commission in Kabul Sunday, just hours before it closed the registration campaign. 

They include former foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who oversaw the transfer of security responsibilities from NATO to Afghan security forces, and Qayum Karzai, elder brother of the Afghan president.

Rassoul spoke to reporters after submitting his nomination papers on Sunday.

He said that if elected he, along with his team, will work toward more progress in Afghanistan, protecting historic achievements the country has made over the past decade, delivering good governance and stabilizing the legitimate national economy.

Ghani, also an ethnic Pashtun who came in third in the 2009 presidential election, promised to include losing candidates in his government if he is voted to power.

The former finance minister said this is the first time in national history that political power will be transferred to another elected team, and he predicted his team will be the winner because Afghanistan needs change.

The constitution bars President Karzai from running for a third consecutive term, and he has promised to stay neutral in the upcoming elections. However, there are speculations in the local media that the incumbent Afghan leader is expected to support his former foreign minister, Zalmay Rassoul. 

Other top contenders include former foreign minister Abullah Abdullah, who was the runner-up to President Karzai in the 2009 polls, and lawmaker Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, an influential ethnic Pashtun religious scholar.

The April election is the first independent vote Afghanistan is organizing without direct foreign assistance, and it is taking place during the same year that American-led military coalition will wind up its combat mission in the country. 

In the wake of the stepped up Taliban insurgency, many describe security as the biggest challenge for the Afghan national forces ahead of the election. Others caution against repetition of widespread rigging and fraud that marred the 2009 presidential election. 
Addressing the Asia Society in New York as the foreign minister of Afghanistan, Zalmay Rassoul also underlined the importance of fair polls.
"This election is extremely important because if this election happened successfully and the result of this election will be accepted by the Afghan people, definitely the democratic process will be rooted in Afghan society and it can continue with achievement that we have made your (international community's) support in democratic process... and if we fail on providing a credible election, that will be disaster for the future of Afghanistan," he said.

The prevailing security concerns, particularly in areas where the Taliban has a strong presence, were once again highlighted by a roadside bomb attack Sunday in southern Afghanistan that killed four international soldiers, all of them reported to be Americans.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs