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Ghani Ahead of Abdullah in New Survey

Ghani Ahead of Abdullah in New Survey

KABUL – Dr. Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank official and finance minister, is leading the race for the presidency, followed by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, according to a new opinion poll released on Sunday. Jointly conducted by Glevum Associates, a Washington-based research company, and Asia Innovative Research Communication, the survey puts President Hamid Karzai’s brother Qayyum Karzai in third place.

Twenty-nine percent of likely voters supported Ghani and 24 percent Abdullah while the rest of contenders were backed by less than 10 percent. Pamela Hunter, a member of Glevum Associates, told a news conference the 4th position was shared by Prof. AbulRassoulSayyaf and ex-foreign minister ZalmaiRassoul — each favoured by six percent of respondent.

Eighty-five percent of the 2,148 likely voters said they would not be influenced if President Karzai chose to back a particular contestant. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus about two percentage points. Ghani, who polled only two percent of the popular vote in the 2009 election, was second behind Abdullah in last week’s survey by the US-based Democracy International. The DI poll found 86 percent of Afghans had confidence in Karzai.

The latest poll said 61 percent would vote for a candidate who planned negotiations with the Taliban, 51 percent advocated for good relations with Pakistan and 71 percent wanted positive ties to the United States. Forty percent of respondents said the presidential runners should keep foreign forces in the country beyond 2014, when the NATO combat mission is scheduled to end. About 90 percent refused to vote for a corrupt candidate.

Meanwhile, Independent Election Commission head Abdul Sattar Sadat told a private TV channel that seven of the candidates were facing criminal charges. Cases against them were being probed by prosecutors, he said. Asia Innovative Research Communication head Hafizullah Omar said many respondents did not know the names of vice-presidential candidates and that some of them were accused of war crimes. “People are unaware who vice-presidential runners are! They are focused on presidential contenders and have no idea who’s been guilty of war crimes,” Omar added.(PAN)

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