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Forty-four candidates, including two women, have registered for the upcoming elections
Forty-four candidates, including two women, have registered for the upcoming elections on August 20 in Afghanistan, the Central Election Commission said on Saturday.

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

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.

In Afghanistan's first presidential elections in 2004, there were 25 registered candidates, though only 18 of them ended up on the final ballot.

The incumbent president Hamid Karzai, who won the previous election with 55% of the vote, is largely considered the main candidate to win the upcoming election. Karzai, who is supported by the majority of the Pashtu population, is running in tandem with Mukhammed Fakhim, the leader of Afghanistan's ethnic Tajiks, who will become vice-president if Karzai is elected.

The Pashtu-Tajik alliance, which was formed just weeks before the start of the registration, apparently does not leave any chances to win the election for other candidates, including former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan's population is considered to total 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.

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


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