KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The debate performance of Afghan presidential contender Ashraf Ghani proves he is the best candidate to lead the country, the former finance minister said.
Afghans head to the polls Thursday to vote for provincial council leaders and their next president. Incumbent President Hamid Karzai squares off against his former Finance Minister Ghani, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and several others, including several female candidates.
Ghani, though lagging behind his rivals, says he is the best candidate for the next Afghan president. He pointed to his performance in national debates as evidence of his qualifications.
"Ghani demonstrated both his expertise in the issues facing Afghanistan and his passion for improving the daily lives of all Afghans," a statement from his office read.
Ghani lashed out at Karzai for emphasizing the same policies he embraced during his five-year presidency, noting he is the only candidate to take part in all of the presidential debates.
"Ghani is the only presidential candidate to have participated in both national presidential debates, reflecting his commitment to the democratic process and his campaign's growing momentum," the statement continued.
Ghani worked for the World Bank until 1996. He served as a special envoy to the United Nations following the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, playing a key role in the development of the new government in Kabul.
Karzai leads in the polls over Abdullah, his closest rival, though the latest poll numbers show he lacks the support to secure a clear majority.