KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Campaign season for Afghanistan's presidential election kicks off tomorrow.
The stakes are high for the 11 candidates vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai and oversee the final chapter in a NATO-led combat mission. The outcome of the April 5 election is seen as make-or-break for the country's future after nearly 13 years of war.
A key issue is a security agreement that could allow some 10,000 U.S. troops and 6,000 troops from allied nations to stay in Afghanistan after the end of this year. U.S. and NATO officials have been pressing Karzai to sign the deal, but he has refused, saying it must wait until after the election.
Western officials say all the candidates are in favor of the security agreement, but so far only one has said so publicly: Adullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister was the runner-up to Karzai in the 2009 elections.
Today, two members of his campaign were shot and killed as they left their office in the western province of Herat (hay-RAHT').