Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghan Presidential Candidates Finish Second Day Of Debates

Afghan presidential candidates have concluded their second consecutive day of a televised debate.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, former senior presidential adviser Hedayat Amin Arsala, and Prince Muhammad Nader Naim, grandson of former President Daud Khan's brother, were participating on February 16.

The candidates spoke about the rights of women, the needs of young people in the country, the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, and peace talks with the Taliban.

LIVE BLOG: Presidential Debates

On women's rights, Naim said there is clearly more that needs to be done for Afghanistan's women.

"Women’s rights are a serious and important matter. As you know, today women make up 50 percent of our society. We’ve gained some achievements in this regard, but those are not enough. We want to provide more opportunities for women ensuring that they have a 30 percent participation in our next government,” Naim said,

Arsala echoed that sentiment.

"We must respect human rights and should not allow any violations under any circumstances. Women’s rights must be protected," Arsala said.

INFOGRAPHIC: Where The Candidates Stand

Security Pact

All three candidates supported signing the BSA with the United States. Ghani said the agreement provides for Afghanistan's national sovereignty.

"This agreement is the source of Afghanistan's national sovereignty. For the first time since international forces have been deployed in Afghanistan, the Afghan state will have the sole right to use force. Therefore [this agreement] ensures our national sovereignty in every aspect," Ghani said.

Naim called signing of the BSA an important event for the people of Afghanistan and Arsala said signing the BSA was in the best interests of the Afghan people.

The debates are sponsored jointly by state broadcasters RTA and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.

Altogether, 11 candidates are competing in the April 5 presidential election to replace the outgoing Hamid Karzai.

President Hamid Karzai's brother, Qayum Karzai, and former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasul were expected to participate in the February 16 debate, but withdrew.