Afghanistan presidential elections: President Ashraf Ghani announces key decision

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Afghanistan presidential elections: President Ashraf Ghani announces key decision

KABUL – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will seek re-election in 2019, his office announced Saturday, as potential rivals begin jockeying for the country s top job ahead of the ballot.

Ghani, who was elected in a fraud-tainted poll in 2014 that was only resolved in a US-brokered power-sharing deal, is expected to present himself to war-weary voters as the candidate who can end the 17-year conflict.

The 69-year-old acerbic academic, who has a reputation for shouting at subordinates and micromanaging the unity government, will try to capitalise on renewed US-led efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks, which are showing tentative signs of bearing fruit.

"I can confirm that President Ghani is seeking re-election next year," presidential palace spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi told AFP.

Ghani, who chose the widely feared ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum as his first running mate in the 2014 election, has not yet announced who he will pick this time round.

It also is not certain who will challenge Ghani in the April 20 ballot.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan s equivalent of prime minister, and former national security adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar, who quit in August, are among potential contenders.

Former Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor, whose refusal to stand down from his position sparked a months-long political crisis for Ghani, has previously expressed interest in the job.

Nominations open on November 10.

The embattled Independent Election Commission (IEC) had been scheduled to release the results of last month s shambolic parliamentary poll on the same day, but on Saturday pushed back the date until November 23 for all provinces except Kabul.

Kabul province s results would be released on December 1, IEC spokesman Sayed Hafizullah Hashimi told reporters. - APP/AFP