Ex-NSA withdraws from Afghan presidential contest

Kabul: Former Afghan National Security Adviser (NSA) Muhammad Hanif Atmar on Tuesday withdrew from the presidential election race, citing insecurity, technical problems and lack of transparency in the poll process.

“As the presidential election process is approaching, I want to share with my compatriots my decision of not taking part in the September 28 presidential election,” Atmar said in a statement shared by his campaign team with the media.

The statement said the war-torn nation was not ready to hold “a free, fair, transparent and nationwide” election and such polls could “plunge” the country into further “political instability”, Efe news reported.

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It said in the past few months, it had been proposed that the elections be “delayed for a few months” so the government, political leadership, and civil society work to prepare the ground for holding “transparent, fair, free and nationwide” polls.

He said he was “retaining the right as a candidate if the elections are delayed”.

However, Atmar clarified he would remain neutral and would not support any contestant.

Atmar was one of the four major candidates among the 18 in the fray. Prominent Tajik politician Yunus Qanoni was his first running mate and Hazara leader, Muhammad Muhaqiq as his second running mate for the vice-presidential post.

Other contestants for the presidency are President Ashraf Ghani, his Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and former insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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