A slew of political heavyweights,along with the Afghan Presidents Hamid Karzais brother and a number of former warlords,will take part in next years elections for the countrys top office in a critical vote that that could determine the future course of the country and the level of foreign involvement in Afghanistan after 12 years of war.
The candidacies ended weeks of speculation over who will aspire to replace President Hamid Karzai,who has essentially run the country since the October 7,2001 invasion that ousted the Taliban. Karzai is not entitled to run for a third consecutive term in the April 5 elections,but is expected to back at least one of the candidates his former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul,despite the fact that his businessman brother Qayyum Karzai is also running for president.
By the end of the day about 20 presidential candidates had registered for the first independent vote. The April 5 vote will help determine the success or failure of all the years of US-led military and political intervention in the country.
Top contenders include former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah,who was the runner up to President Hamid Karzai in the 2009 elections.
Ashraf Ghani,former finance minister who oversaw the transition of security from foreign forces to the Afghan army and police. He weighed in with support from two of countrys ethnic groups. His choices for vice president are Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum,a former warlord who is thought to control the majority of the Uzbek vote and Sarwar Danish,a former justice minister.
Two former warlords are sharing a ticket,one for president,the other for vice president. They are Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf,an influential Pashtun lawmaker and religious scholar and former minister Ismail Khan,respectively.