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Afghan Presidential Campaign Begins


While the field of 11 could narrow as the campaign grinds on, there is currently no clear leading contender.
Campaigning for Afghanistan's presidential election has officially begun.

Eleven candidates are vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai in the April 5 vote.

Karzai has essentially run Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 drove the Taliban from power and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

While the field of 11 could narrow as the campaign grinds on, there is currently no clear leading contender.

None of the candidates is expected to garner the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Analysts say the vote is key to the future of Afghanistan.

Billions of dollars in foreign aid are tied to the government's holding a free and fair election, the first independent vote organized by Afghanistan without direct foreign assistance.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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