Election Fever Mounts As Groups Decide On Presidential Candidates

The political climate in the country has taken on a sense of urgency in the past week as politicians, parties and coalitions put their heads together to decide on presidential candidates for next year’s presidential elections.  

On Monday, representatives from one of Afghanistan’s influential political coalitions known as the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan (GNCA) met with President Ashraf Ghani, former national security advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, former minister of interior Mohammad Omar Daudzai, chairman the New National Front of Afghanistan Anwarul Haq Ahadi and former head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) Rahmatullah Nabil where they discussed the scheduled elections.  

At the meeting, GNCA reportedly proposed the creation of a post for a Prime Minister and suggested the number of vice presidents be increased from two to three.

GNCA representatives said they will support a candidate whom they believe will commit to its plans.

According to GNCA officials, the coalition is currently considering a wide range of essential changes it considers vital ahead of the elections — this includes bringing changes in the structure of government which also includes the proposal to convene a constitutional Loya Jirga to change the political system, the creation of a post for a prime minister, increasing the number of vice presidents from two to three, to hold provincial and district council elections alongside the presidential elections, to appoint local officials through elections and undertake bold steps for peace.

“They (GNCA) have some proposals and recommendations with candidates, especially the appointment of governors and mayors through elections, proposals around the parliamentary system and decentralization of the political system, they are making key parts of the recommendations of this coalition to the candidates and let’s see which one of these candidates including Dr. Ashraf Ghani agree on these items,” said Abdullah Qarloq, a member of The National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.

At the same time, consultations are also underway over candidates for the elections between the Council for Protection and Stability in Afghanistan (CPSA), Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami and other political groups.

“All efforts are focused on power so that our status regarding power is clarified; I have never had such a perception, I want to say before you determine the status of power, you must determine the place of the people to see where the people stand,” said Ahmad Wali Massoud, chairman of the Massoud Foundation.

“All ethnicities must see themselves in power, all must feel that they are the owner of the country, these debates are useful to improve the situation, to share power to ensure that our authority is national-oriented,” said MP Sharifi Balkhabi.

This comes a week after the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said it had finalized the schedule for next year’s presidential elections and that an official announcement would be made once consultations have been completed with the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC), election watchdogs and the country’s political parties and movements.

The political parties however stated that if the results of the October 20 parliamentary elections do not satisfy them, these parties will announce their stance in terms of the IEC’s ability to hold presidential elections.

Based on the election law, the candidates have only ten days to file nomination papers for running in the presidential elections once the IEC makes an official announcement.

The IEC will likely announce the schedule for presidential elections next week.

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