Afghan President and 14 Rivals Launch Race for July Elections by Pamela Constable - Washington Post
A confident and relaxed President Ashraf Ghani launched his reelection campaign on Sunday, registering as a candidate at the national election commission and then delivering a lengthy speech on peace, poverty and the need for a strong government to unite Afghans and end 17 years of war in a “just and honorable” way.
The Afghan election, in which Ghani will face 14 contenders after five tumultuous years in office, is now scheduled for July 20 after being postponed from April. The race will be dominated, and in some ways overshadowed, by ongoing efforts to start peace talks with Taliban insurgents, who have so far refused to negotiate with Ghani’s government and insisted on dealing only with U.S. officials, while continuing to wage attacks across the country.
Ghani’s performance on Sunday, the deadline for candidates to register, was bolstered by the presence of his surprise running mate for first vice president, Amrullah Saleh, a tough former national intelligence chief whom Ghani appointed as his new interior minister just three weeks ago. Saleh gave a shorter and stern speech, vowing to end high-level “bullying” and “impunity” and to settle the war on terms that are “acceptable to all Afghans.”..