Sunday, February 02, 2014

Afghanistan election guide: everything you need to know --- Eleven candidates, 12 million voters, more than 6,000 polling centres – and a lot of headaches for the victor. But who are the men who would be Afghan president and what do they offer? -- The election is the third presidential poll since the fall of the Taliban. It should pave the way for the country's first-ever peaceful democratic transfer of power, because the constitution bars the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, from standing again. The fact that Afghanistan has never managed such a handover before is an indication of how fraught the process could be, even without the complication of a raging insurgency. --- There are 11 candidates, ranging from the man who first invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan to a chatshow host and retired pilot. ---- The candidates: Nader Naim - Born 1965. A grandson of the former King Zahir Shah, whose rule is still remembered by some Afghans as a golden age, Naim is a relatively young candidate who complains about being ignored by the media. Born in Afghanistan, but raised in the UK after his grandfather was toppled by his uncle in a bloodless coup, he returned only after the fall of the Taliban. Working as a secretary to his grandfather, now an ordinary citizen, he built up a wide network of contacts that will bolster his campaign, although it is unclear if he will be able to bankroll a serious bid in what is likely to be an expensive election. --- The election is in two rounds, similar to the French system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round – which with 11 candidates is unlikely, unless someone reverts to massive fraud – a second round must be held pitting the top two candidates against each other. -- That means that although the poll is set for 5 April, the process could drag on for months. Getting the ballot papers back from far-flung stations and handling complaints is expected to take weeks, with a final result not due until mid-May. -- A second round would take at least six weeks more, probably longer. So even though the president, Hamid Karzai, is officially due to step down in May, many observers think the country will not get a new leader until July or August at the earliest. - More, Emma Graham-Harrison - Guardian, at:


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