The Taliban could stand in Afghanistan's next presidential election in 2014, the country's top poll official said Wednesday, as a series of suspected insurgent bombings killed 17 civilians. President Hamid Karzai, who is serving his second term as leader of the war-torn nation, is constitutionally barred from running in the election and no clear candidate to succeed him has yet emerged. The vote, scheduled for April 5, 2014, is seen as crucial to stability after the withdrawal of NATO troops and Fazil Ahmad Manawi, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), insisted his body would act impartially.
"We are even prepared to pave the ground for the armed opposition, be it the Taliban or Hezb-i-Islami, to participate in the election, either as voters or candidates," Manawi told a news conference. "There will be no discrimination," the IEC chief added, defending the body in response to a question about its impartiality. Hezb-i-Islami is the faction of former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar which wages an insurgency along with the Taliban against Karzai's Western-backed government.
Read more: Associated Free Press