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Top Afghan candidates clear hurdle

KABUL — The top contenders for Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential elections all survived a preliminary disqualification round on Tuesday that eliminated 16 minor candidates for not meeting requirements, officials said.

Independent Elections Commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the disqualified candidates have 20 days to raise any objections to the commission. He added that 10 of the 26 candidates who registered by the Oct. 6 deadline made the cut.

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Most of the eliminated candidates were barred because of improper documents and other violations, including dual nationalities and lack of university degrees, but the favorites all easily qualified for the vote.

Candidates had to declare tickets that included two vice presidents, and have at least 100,000 signatures that included ones from all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces.

All the candidates have tried to shape tickets that draw support from across an ethnically fractious political scene marked by patronage and alliances among the elite, including warlords and tribal elders who can marshal votes from their communities. The population of 31 million is roughly 42 percent Pashtun, 27 percent Tajik, 9 percent Hazara, and 9 percent Uzbek along with other, smaller factions.

The April 5 vote could determine the future course of Afghanistan and the level of foreign involvement here after 12 years of war.

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