Your Guide to the Afghan Election

Profiles of the top 4 candidates in a turbulent country
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2009 1:17 PM CDT
Presidential candidate and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai gestures to supporters during an election campaign rally in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
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(Newser) – Torn by war and insurgency, Afghanistan votes for its next president tomorrow, choosing from among 37 candidates. NPR profiles the frontrunners:

  • Hamid Karzai. The incumbent, a member of Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, was elected in 2005 amid a swell of international backing. But lately the former activist’s popularity has been weighed down by government corruption and Taliban activity.

  • Abdullah Abdullah. Karzai’s onetime foreign minister was allied with an anti-Taliban “national hero to many,” NPR notes. He would help the families of military casualties and decentralize government.
  • Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. Called “too American” by opponents, the former professor would make laws simpler and establish a watchdog network to report on national security.
  • The rest. The 34 other candidates include two women and an ex-Taliban commander. Populist, simple-living MP Ramazan Bashardost has emerged recently as a contender.