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Some 60 candidates may run for president in the upcoming elections
Some 60 candidates may run for president in the upcoming elections on August 21 in Afghanistan, Independent Election Commission official Daud Ali Najafi told journalists on Thursday.

Najafi said that since April 25, more than 60 people have collected registration forms for the elections, which need to be filled out by hand and turned in by May 8, when registration of candidates ends.

"Sixty potential candidates have visited the commission for information and have received registration forms," Najafi said.

Of the over 60 registration forms issued, none has yet been turned into the central election commission.

To register, a candidate must make a deposit of approximately $1,000 to the election committee and submit at least 10,000 signatures endorsing the candidate, Najafi said. A presidential candidate must be at least 40 years old and have no prior criminal record.

Najafi said that two women were among those who took registration forms, though he did not disclose the names of any of the possible candidates.

In Afghanistan's first presidential elections in 2004, there were 25 registered candidates, though only 18 of them ended up on the final ballot. President Hamid Karzai won that election with 55% of the vote and has said that he will run for a second term this year, though he has not yet registered.

Other possible candidates include former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani.

According to Afghanistan's constitution, elections should have been held in April of this year. However, polls were put off until August 20 due to concerns over funding and security, as well as technical complications.

The elections could be derailed by Taliban attacks in Afghanistan's southern provinces during the campaign or voting, especially in Helmand Province, where much of the fighting between NATO troops and Taliban forces has taken place.

According to Independent Election Commission statistics, there are approximately 17 million registered voters in Afghanistan. The polls could be declared invalid if turnout is less than 50%.

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan's population is 25-27 million people, although it is unclear how many Afghans may be living outside the country. The last attempt to hold a census was in 1979, while plans for another attempt, sponsored by Japan, also ended in failure in the summer of 2008 because of instability in the country.

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