Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has registered as a candidate for
re-election on August 20. But as the war-torn country prepares for
the crucial poll, fresh insurgent attacks in southern and eastern parts
of the country have left at least 27 people dead, most of them
reporters shortly after appearing before the Independent Election
Commission in Kabul to sign up for the upcoming polls, President Hamid
Karzai promised to bring peace and security to Afghanistan. He was
flanked by his two running mates, Vice President Karim Khalili and
former Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim.
says he has decided to stand for re-election to serve for the welfare
and interest of the people of Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai comes from
Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns, while his running
mates, Khalili and Fahim represent Hazara and Tajik minorities
Other candidates have until Thursday to
register. But the opposition is still struggling to name a candidate
with a broad enough support to challenge Mr. Karzai. One of his
possible rivals, Governor Agha Sherzai, with backing from among Pashtun
tribes in the south, withdrew from the race Saturday in Karzai's favor.
President Karzai has led the country since U.S backed foreign
forces ousted Taliban from power in late 2001. He won Afghanistan's
first democratic presidential vote in 2004.
But since then his
popularity has declined. This is mainly because civilian casualties
caused by international military forces while attacking insurgents have
increased and corruption in his administration remains unchecked.
Fresh Taliban attacks on Monday left at least 27 people dead, raising security concerns before the presidential election.
United States plans to increase its forces in Afghanistan this year to
fight the Taliban insurgency and to ensure security during the
presidential election. The Taliban have rejected the Afghan elections
as a process to promote U.S interests in the region.
part of his effort at political reconciliation, President Karzai has
repeatedly called for engaging moderate Taliban elements to bring them
into the mainstream politics.
U.N special envoy for
Afghanistan Kai Eide this week urged opposition forces to take part in
the upcoming election. He says this will encourage and strengthen
reconciliation efforts aimed at bringing political stability to the
"I believe that the opposition should know
that those who wish to take part in the elections and respect the
constitution should have an open door to be able to do that. I do not
underestimate the difficulties, but I think it is important to stretch
out a hand and say it is better that we compete at the ballot boxes
than that we fight in the battle field," said Eide.
after signing up for the August 20 election, President Karzai left for
Washington to meet President Barack Obama for the first time since the
U.S leader's inauguration. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari will
also attend the talks. Rising militancy in the mountainous region on
the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is expected to be the focus