| ||Limited VP choices put wannabes in tight spot|
By Meer Agha samimi
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KABUL - Problems in the selection of vice-presidents have led likely presidential wannabes to a delay in filing their nomination papers with the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Ironically, the last date for filing nominations is upon them, as they agonise over the issue.
With the registration deadline set to expire two days later, only four hopefuls – Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Bismillah Sher, Fazal Karim Najimi and Prof. Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf -- have formally jumped into the presidential fray over the past 19 days.
IEC figures reveal that 72 likely contenders, including senior government figures and women, have so far received information kits on the ballot, penciled in for April 2014.
They include Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the Security Transition Commission chairman, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Advisor to President on Defence Abdul Rahim Wardak, Commerce Minister Anwarul Haq Ahady, Nangarhar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai, former interior minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar and presidential advisor Hakim Noorzai.
Qayyum Karzai, a brother of President Hamid Karzai, Daud Sultanzoy, Younas Fakoor, Sarwar Ahmadzai, Yousuf Kohdamani, Abdullah Kandahari and a number of others also received information kits.
The office of Vice President Muhammad Karim Khalili says several aspirants had contacted him for his nomination as vice-president. But Khalili would like to be the vice president of someone who could cope with the “challenges facing Afghanistan”.
Two days back, Sayyaf tendered his resignation as a member of the Wolesi Jirga to run for the presidency, picking Water an Energy Minister Ismail Khan as his first VP and Senator Abdul Wahab Irfan as his second VP.
At a news conference the other day, Nangarhar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai announced his resignation in a move to contest the elections. He said consultations were underway on the nomination of VPs.
Syed Ishaq Gilani, a Wolesi Jirga member from southeastern Paktika province, told Pajhwok Afghan News he would register his name with the IEC on Saturday for the all-important vote. Gilani has chosen his VPs but stopped short of naming them owing to the delay in submission of nomination papers to the poll panel.
Similarly, Ahadi is among the likely candidates having got information kits. Wahid Ghazikhel, his spokesman, said the minister was holding consultative meetings with likeminded individuals on nominating his VPs. Ahadi would formally join the race after consultations with his supporters.
Noted spiritual leader and former president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi has reportedly been mounting pressure on Ahadi to name his son as a VP. But Ghazikhel vehemently dismissed the impression as misplaced.
Ashraf Ghani has also been tight-lipped on who his vice presidents will be. He stood down as security transition chief a few days back to contest the elections. A source close to him revealed Ahmadzai would name his VPs after filing his nomination documents on Saturday.
One of his expected VPs will be suggested by the Junbish-i-Milli led by Abdul Rashid Dostum and another by Sima Samar, the chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
A source in the Presidential Palace said Karzai had helped Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the National Coalition of Afghanistanhead Dr. Abdullah select his VPs. But Fazlur Rehman Orya, the party spokesman, insisted they did not face any problem in choosing vice-presidents.
Meanwhile, a hot debate is raging on Facebook and other social medial regarding problems in nomination of vice presidents. Dr. Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a political analyst, cited three reasons for the delay.
He said some contenders might not be prepared to contest the polls. Zaland added the previous elections promoted the idea if a presidential candidate was from the majority Pashtun tribe, his vice presidents should be Tajik and Hazara.
But the commentator explained the ethnicity-driven proposition was inconsistent with established democratic norms around the globe. Another factor behind this procrastination is incredibility of politicians and loss of jobs.
Resident Ajmal Stanikzai asked Ashraf Ghani to pick Dr. Ramazan Bashardost as one of his deputies.
As dithering on veeps’ nomination continues, one presidential hopeful phoned a Pajhwok reporter, seeking cooperation in finding him suitable choices -- preferably a Hazara an Uzbek.
Rafiullah Stanikzai, another Facebook user, claimed one aspirant had signalled his willingness to appoint a VP deemed fit for the job by those employing social media.
“This time around, there is literally an acute dearth of VPs. Come on, folks! You are still complaining of rising countrymen. Look, I have personally been approached by a couple of hopefuls who sought my help in finding them good veeps. Now that there are lots of jobs, there is shortage of takers.”