HIA to name preferred presidential candidate soon
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar would soon announce a decision on supporting a particular candidate in the April presidential election, a senior leader of the faction said on Tuesday.
Qaribur Rahman Saeed, the HIA former spokesman and the faction’s political and peace jirga head in Europe, told Pajhwok Afghan News the HIA would support a candidate “better suited to the party’s policies.”
“A decision by the HIA about the elections is of great importance because it will enable its supporters to exercise their right to vote with confidence and enthusiasm,” he said.
He said the decision would also help candidate related to the HIA to freely contest the ballot. He said the HIA had decided to participate in the provincial council elections because it wanted to have a key role in helping its supporters to make it to the Meshrano Jirga.
“The latest decision has minimised the chance of those people who are knocking at the doors of people (for vote) in the name of HIA, while they have no support of the party,” Saeed said.
He said the HIA would not directly participate in the elections this time around, but would field its candidates in provincial and presidential elections in future.
He said there had been no change in the HIA’s stance on the withdrawal of foreign troops and the country’s independence.
A day earlier, HIA leader Ghairat Baheer told Pajhwok Afghan News Hekmatyar through letters had asked HIA leaders in provinces to take part in the upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, Paktia governor Juma Khan Hamdard welcomed Hekmatyar’s decision to take part in the polls.
On his Facebook page, Hamdard, also a presidential advisor, said the decision offered HIA supporters a good opportunity to play a positive role in the elections and vote for candidates of their choice.
Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor in his comments on the HIA decision said the commission was committed to paving the ground for all Afghans to participate in the elections, irrespective of their tribal and political affiliations.
“Every Afghan who uses his/her vote instead of gun in the elections is welcomed and will be given a chance to vote.”
The Hekmatyar-led HIA, which has been waging insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign troops, had previously denied taking part in the landmark elections.
A copy of Hekmatyar’s letter has been obtained by a Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune. “Convey to Hizb-i-Islami members to take part in the provincial council elections and support those candidates who are either related to us or have a positive view about the party,” the letter said.
Hekmatyar said his party was not directly taking part in the elections due to the presence of occupation forces, but would exercise the right to vote to get those candidates elected who were close to the party and its ideology.
The HIA is divided into several groups, including a non-violent group led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, the incumbent economy minister.
The Arghandiwal-led group’s executive body member, Mohammad Khan, is contesting the presidential elections as Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s first-vice presidential candidate.
Another key leader of the group, Qutbuddin Hilal, is contesting the elections as an independent candidate.
Though the Hekmatyar group has not yet announced its support for a particular candidate, analysts believe the group is likely to support Hilal.
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