Chatham House upbeat on Afghan elections

Oct. 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

LONDON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- British policy center Chatham House said Wednesday next year's presidential elections in Afghanistan may turn out better than some expect.

Jan Kubis, U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, said last week he was impressed with election preparations so far. Afghan President Hamid Karzai backed election laws in a July decree and members of an independent election commission were appointed earlier this month.

Next year will mark the first time power is transferred from one elected government to another in Afghanistan's history.

Michael Keating, a senior fellow for Asian affairs at Chatham House, said the campaign may be "bruising" and the election might be "flawed" but there were signs for hope nonetheless.

"The elections could be ethnically divisive but the most plausible candidates have chosen running mates from across ethnic divides," he wrote Wednesday. "And the tumult of political horse-trading is evidence that elections now have a central role, albeit not the only one, in determining how power is transferred and shared."

Sunday was the deadline to register for the election. Karzai can't run because of term limits. More than two dozen candidates from warlords to human rights leaders, including one woman, registered in time.

Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday many of the candidates have blood on their hands.

A final list of qualified candidates is expected from election regulators Nov. 16.

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