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Presidential election candidates yet to start their campaigns

A group of twelve presidential candidates, who gave the government a five-day ultimatum on July 28 to address their “legitimate” demands on transparency in the upcoming presidential polls, on Friday renewed their deadline, warning to boycott the elections if their suggestions were not considered by President Ghani’s administration.

The 12 candidates, who have come together under the Presidential Candidates Council, have not started their election campaigning so far.

Presidential candidate Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, who is a member of the council, at a press conference on Friday accused President Ghani of misusing government resources for election campaigning.

He claimed that Mr. Ghani has appointed at least 50 of his close aides to government posts in the past few weeks.

“Most recently, heads of deputies of customs were appointed [by President Ghani] because they could use a large amount of money [generated from the customs] to be used for the coming elections,” Mr. Hakimi claimed.

Mr. Hakimi also claimed that the president invited Afghan religious scholars under the pretext of discussing national issues at a big gathering in Kabul, but “he did his campaigning there”.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar’s team, which is also a member of the Presidential Candidates Council, gave the government a 24-hour ultimatum to ensure that public resources are not using in election campaigning; otherwise, they will announce their final decision in this respect.

“Unfortunately, this will change into another crisis which will not be acceptable to anyone. However, we are fully prepared for the elections,” said Qader Shah, a spokesman to Atmar’s team.

But presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi rejected any type of use of government resources in election campaigning by Mr. Ghani.

“The honorable candidates can share their complaints with election commissions if they have any complaints,” Sediqqi said.