Afghanistan’s election commission on Tuesday set the country’s next presidential election for April 5, 2014, kicking off a race that would choose Hamid Karzai’s successor and unfold as U.S.-led forces leave the country. Mr. Karzai, who is prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term, is widely expected to name a preferred candidate in the polls, possibly his older brother Qayum or a trusted ally. But with 18 months until the poll date set by the Independent Election Commission, some observers were skeptical that a new voting system and electoral law will be completed in time to guide elections and stave off fraud.
Security will also be a concern during the vote, with the diminished coalition troop presence unable to provide the sort of protection it offered during the last presidential race, in 2009. “There is more insecurity, and the challenges have increased since the last election,” said lawmaker Ghulam Farooq Nazari.
Western diplomats had called this month for the announcement of an election date, amid concerns that Mr. Karzai would seek to somehow extend his term. He has repeatedly said he would step down in 2014.
The Afghan president doesn’t have a preferred candidate in the 2014 vote, said his spokesman, Aimal Faizi. “He has not named anybody, but he has held a series of meetings with different people around the country to create a road map for elections,” Mr. Faizi said. “It’s an inclusive process, not exclusive.”
Mr. Faizi didn’t rule out Mr. Karzai naming a preferred successor, but said it would be done “as an Afghan citizen…with the right to vote.”
Before the election is held, a new electoral law and voting system must be put in place. The voting system will rely on issuing new high-tech electronic cards, though registration hasn’t yet started.
Full Article: Afghan Presidential Poll Is Set for 2014 – WSJ.com.