Afghans pleased with cut in runners' strength
KABUL (PAN): People in Kabul and other provinces say they were pleased with the Independent Election Commission (IEC)’s decision whittling down the number of presidential candidates to 10 from 27 for the April 5 vote.
Releasing a preliminary list of the registered contenders, the IEC said those disqualified had either retained citizenship of another country or failed to provide evidence of enough support.
"The disqualified candidates have 20 days to complain," IEC chief Yousuf Nuristani told a press conference in Kabul on late on Tuesday.
Candidates had been required to collect 100,000 voter cards from at least 20 provinces to prove they had widespread support.
The decision to cull more than half of the presidential runners was welcomed by residents in Kabul and other provinces.
Mohammad Ihsan Fayaz, who heads an association of blind people and teaches at a school for blinds, said he viewed the removal of 16 candidates from the initial list as a positive development because if there were many runners, it divided voters.
“So none of the candidates will be able, if they are so many in the field, to win the required number of votes (50-plus one), he said. He said a run-off would incease the election cost. “In case of many candidates, it becomes difficult for voters to find a preferred one.”
Fayaz believed a further cut in the number of candidates would help reduce elections costs, saying those remained on the list seemed front runners.
A shopkeeper in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Syeda Jan, said he decided to take part in the elections after the IEC decision. He recalled he avoided casting his vote in the previous elections due to the so many candidates.
A resident of northeastern Kunduz province, Mirwais Fayaz, said a majority of people he knew were happy with the IEC decision, calling it as part of democracy.
A resident of central Bamyan province, Mohammad Karim, praised the IEC for disqualifying ineligible candidates.
He said the decision was right because the disapproved candidates had failed to meet the required criteria.
However, he said it made him concerned that many warlords remained in the race, saying presidential candidates should be competent and clean individuals.
Residents of southern Helmand provinces also expressed their happiness over the IEC decision. A Lashkargah dweller, Jam Mohammad Sher, told Pajhwok Afghan News the move would help prevent rigging and reduce election costs.
He asked the IEC to thoroughly investigate documents of the remaining candidates, who might have been involved in criminal activities in the past.
He said it would be in the interest of the IEC and the people if some more candidates were removed from the list.
However, another resident of Lashkargah, Mohammad Ghazi, said the IEC had not been fair in investigating documents of the presidential candidates, otherwise the number could have been reduced to five.
A high school student in the western city of Herat, Yasmin, said the IEC decision was good, but it removed the only female contender from the list, leaving all men in the race.
She said a large list of candidates confused people in selecting a candidate of their choice. She said there were individuals among the surviving candidates, who had blood on their hands of innocent Afghans. “I wish the number of candidates was reduced to four or five. The 10 are still too many.”
Yasmin was also happy over the disqualification of many contenders from the provincial council elections in Heart, saying they had obtained fake decrees to contest the elections.
A resident of eastern Laghman province, Najibur Rahman Inqilabi, said he was very happy that more than half of presidential candidates had been eliminated from the race.
He said a special attention should be paid to running mates because a majority of them were involved in crimes against humanity in the past.
Similar views were expressed by residents of northern Balk and Sari Pul provinces, saying they supported the IEC decision.
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