Afghanistan poised to vote for new president

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Afghanistan goes to the polls on Saturday, for presidential elections that are meant to mark the first democratic transfer of power in its history.

The country’s current president for more than 12 years, Hamid Karzai, is due to stand down as he is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office.

There are a total of eight candidates for Afghanistan’s top job, with a tight race predicted between three front-runners which include Zalmai Rassoul, Afghanistan’s former foreign minister.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a former finance minister and World Bank official. He previously contested the 2009 elections, but came fourth.

Abdullah Abdullah is a doctor and former foreign minister. He was a close associate of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader assassinated in 2001.

He also ran in 2009, but withdrew in the run off.

13 million people are eligible to vote in Afghanistan’s election.

While the poll is at the weekend, the result is not expected to be known for several months as Afghanistan’s difficult terrain means some ballot boxes are being delivered by donkey.

Security has been tightened in the cities as the Islamic rebel group, the Taliban has vowed to derail the vote.

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