by Chris Bowers, Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 09:40:13 AM EDT
The presence of powerful local leaders, many with their own private militias, means many Afghans have withdrawn from candidacy because they felt pressure from competing powerful people in their areas. "Some of the candidates did not dare to collect the signatures of 10,000 registered voters as required for nomination of a presidential candidate," Latif Pedram, another presidential hopeful, told IRIN. He added it was challenging and risky to be a candidate if you did not have military power or plenty of money.More from the Toronto Star: After voter registration centres closed across Afghanistan on the weekend, election officials acknowledged the number of voting cards issued far exceeded the estimated number of eligible voters -- and that the illegal practice of multiple registrations is widespread. Because of continuing violence and other problems, the Afghan elections have been delayed on numerous occasions. These reports from the ground indicate that the prospect of a fair election is dicey at best. If reports of fraud, intimidation and violence continue to damage the credibility of the process all the way until Election Day, it might just be the straw that breaks the back of Bush's campaign. More likely, however, no matter what happens in Afghanistan the national media will ignore it. They stopped paying attention to that war a long time ago.