Candidates for Afghanistan’s upcoming April election kicked off their presidential campaigns on Sunday.

According to TOLO News, many of the 11 candidates have focused on similar, broad issues so far, including security, human rights, women’s participation in government, corruption, and economic development. Activists and members of Afghanistan’s parliament pointed out the lack of specific goals in the platforms, but they hope candidates will reveal more detailed plans as they campaign for the next two months.

The April 5 election is the first independent election organized by Afghanistan. “This is a very important election, very crucial election because this is the first time from an elected president we are going to go to another elected president,” Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, chief electoral officer for the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), told The Associated Press. “We are fully ready — logistically, operationally as well as from the capacity side, the budget side, the timing side.”

The IEC has been overseeing election activities to ensure they are conducted in compliance with the laws and with voter confidentiality protected. It has also been working to advance Afghan women’s participation in the electoral process through the establishment of a Gender Unit in 2009, targeted public education directed at women voters, the use of female polling staff and observers, and the development of appropriate security measures.

Media Resources: TOLO News 2/3/14, 2/4/14; The Washington Post 2/1/14; Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan; Feminist Newswire 9/6/13, 10/10/13

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