Taliban can run for president: Afghanistan election chief

By AFP
Published: October 31, 2012

The Taliban and other insurgent leaders could stand as candidates in Afghanistan's next presidential election, says top poll official. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KABUL: The Taliban and other insurgent leaders could stand as candidates in Afghanistan’s next presidential election, to be held in April 2014, the country’s top poll official said Wednesday.

President Hamid Karzai, who is serving his second term as leader of the war-torn nation, is constitutionally barred from running in the election and no clear candidate to succeed him has yet emerged.

The vote, scheduled for April 5, 2014, is seen as crucial to Afghan stability after the withdrawal of NATO troops and Fazil Ahmad Manawi, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) insisted his body would act impartially.

“We are even prepared to pave the ground for the armed opposition, be it the Taliban or Hezb-i-Islami, to participate in the election, either as voters or candidates,” Manawi told a news conference.

“There will be no discrimination,” the IEC chief added, defending the body in response to a question about its impartiality.

Hezb-i-Islami is the faction of former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar which wages an insurgency along with the Taliban against Karzai’s Western-backed government.

Under the IEC timetable, initial results of the election will be announced on April 24 and final results on May 14, with May 28 set aside for any potential run-off vote.

The 2009 poll, in which Karzai was reelected over former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, was marred by widespread allegations of fraud, and the credibility of the 2014 vote is seen as key to avoiding an escalation in violence after the NATO withdrawal.

The International Crisis Group think-tank warned this month that the Kabul government could fall apart after NATO troops pull out, particularly if the presidential elections are plagued by fraud.

The Taliban, whose hardline regime was overthrown in 2001 by a US-led invasion for harbouring Osama bin Laden, did not take part in the 2009 election, instead attacking polling stations.

Under the Afghan system, voters elect the president as an individual rather than as a representative of a party, and candidates must submit their nominations by October 6, 2013.

The IEC will then rule on their admissibility and publish a final list of candidates on November 16.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Hairaan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:28PM

    Why should they run in the election? They are already ruling Afghanistan (less Kabul’s red zone)

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  • Mullah Omar
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:45PM

    Yeah baby…Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2012 - 7:03PM

    So is PTI fighting in Afghan elections?

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  • Usman
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:40PM

    @Wadi Saeen: Yeah its going to be race between SSP and LET backed by PML-N and PTI

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  • Pro Truth
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:49PM

    NATO and Afghan government will be left red faced, if the Mullah Omar is elected as president and there is great chance he will win the election if it goes ahead fairly! But so far Karzai is selected for the job, last election he lost to Abdullah Abdullah but still didnt handed over to him!

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  • Randomstranger
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:51PM

    @Usman

    And Robert Mugabe is getting backed by PPP. Zimbabwe needs to learn a few things from PPP on how to print money..

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  • Cautious
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:04PM

    Kudos for Afghanistan — however not sure how practical that is unless it’s accompanied by some cease fire arrangement and and something that allows the Taliban candidate to travel and appear in public without being arrested.

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  • Enlightened
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:18PM

    The chances of Talebans accepting Karzai’s offer of sharing power are extremely remote. Karzai’s army is already in a disarray and they would become more vunerable to Taleban attacks once the majority of foreign forces leave Afghanistan and a civil war would break out in the entire country is a distinct possibility.

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  • Hammad
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:39PM

    Taliban have to accept the Afghan constitution and give up violence.

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  • Usman
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:57PM

    Governments in Phillippines and Columbia have made peace with insurgents after having fought them for decades and with the help of the US but they had to make peace with them and good for Afghanistan if they are going to make peace with the Taliban.

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  • Zalmai
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:28PM

    @Hairaan

    “Why should they run in the election? They are already ruling Afghanistan (less Kabul’s red zone)”

    You are propagating the typical Urdu medium narrative.Taliban are not ruling Afghanistan and they never will, but they might come to power in Pakistan if Imran Khan wins any seats in parliament.

    @Pro Truth

    Afghans will never vote for a Pakistani lackey like your hero and idol into office in Afghanistan. I find it hilarious that Pakistanis still believe that Afghans want to be ruled by illiterate dim witted slaves of slaves. Those days are over, my delusional friend.

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  • Pakistani
    Oct 31, 2012 - 11:39PM

    this World is a funny place

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  • Introspection
    Nov 1, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @Zalmai:
    The Taliban are more than just a military force—they are a political movement seeking to control territory and to topple the regime. The idea that the United States could exploit divisions within the insurgency to weaken it and stabilize the Afghan government seems increasingly more far-fetched. The million dollar question is: Will the Afghan regime survive?….

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