, Kabul October 22- Afghan officials on Tuesday disqualified more than half of the candidates who registered for the 2014 presidential election, marking a chaotic opening stage in the country’s first democratic transfer of power.
“Out of the 26 candidates who had officially filed to the IEC, after checking documents, 10 made it to the election,” Independent Election Commission chief Yousof Nooristani told reporters.
All the major names remained in the April 5 election that is seen as a key test of Afghanistan’s progress as the US led NATO military coalition pulls out after 13 years of fighting the Taliban insurgency.
President Hamid Karzai, who must step down after two terms, has called for just two or three candidates to avoid the confusion of the fraud riddled 2009 vote, when 40 names appeared on the ballot paper.
But a last minute rush of candidates registered in the closing hours of the nomination period on October 6, after weeks of negotiations had failed to form any significant coalitions.
Presidential hopefuls must be aged at least 40, have a clean criminal record, provide 100,000 voter cards to prove they have a network of supporters and lodge a deposit of one million Afghanis ($18,000).
The criteria were tightened after the 2009 election to try to reduce the size of the field.
“Those who couldn’t make it had several problems, they could not fulfil the requirements set for them in election law, including not having enough voter signatures from all provinces or some of their forms were not complete,” Nooristani said.
Among the leading candidates still in the race are former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, the president’s elder brother Qayum Karzai and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani.
The constitution also decrees that all candidates must be Muslim, born of Afghan parents and not a citizen of another country.