Abdullah, a former mujahedeen who fought alongside
Ghani, in contrast, grew up in
The labels of "jihadi" vs "academic" are stereotypes that have been largely challenged by both candidates during their campaigns over the past eight months.
Ghani, according to
"I think effectively both candidates have moved to the middle," Mohseni said. "I don't think those labels apply as much as they would have say 13 years ago."
In the first round of voting in April, Abdullah took the lead with 44.5 percent of the vote, with Ghani trailing behind at 31.5 percent.
The elections drew a surprisingly large turnout -- more than 7 million people participated out of an estimated 12 million eligible voters.
"We have seen a clear sense of defiance, demonstrating itself through large turnout for registration and into
Observers from around the country say that after months of election campaigning, Afghans are fatigued and a lower turnout is to be expected this time around.
Several Afghan officials who were not given permission to speak to the press told
"Our biggest concern is that neither of these candidates has the power to bring people together like Karzai," one government source said. "Ghani's people are looking to work more for the Pashtuns and if we see Abdullah, well, he will bring more Tajiks to the palace. This is a big concern for officials at the moment."
"Our motto has been 'Rule of Law,'" Saikal told
In an interview to the AFP last year, Ghani said he envisions an "economically interdependent"
"First we need to tackle our widespread corruption, managing this is going to require an immense amount of effort, will and concentration," Ghani said.
Saikal emphasised inclusiveness of all parties involved in the peace process. Over the past few years, the process has very much turned into "a
"First, we will review the policy for the peace process, then we will quickly launch a national consultation and make sure that we unify Afghans on this process," Saikal said.
According to Waheed Mozhdah, a political analyst and former Taliban official, Abdullah is in a better situation than Ghani to further peace negotiations.
"The Taliban never want to talk to Pashtuns," he told
Abdullah's team stresses foreign policy with an emphasis on mending ties with
"There are five layers of focus," Ghani's aide, who wished to not be named, said. "First is the relationship with our neighbours -- this includes
Maintaining and funding
The biggest concern for the vast majority of the population is the economy, employment and job creation.
Lobbying the international community over aid, improving employment programmes, and increasing productivity will be key to
Meanwhile, Ghani emphasises mobilising the youth, and bringing money back into the country. Revamping the education system and training the youth are top priorities for him.
"I think there is something like less than 100 geology students in
The US and Karzai have avoided publicly backing any candidate. Afghan officials, however, told
"Karzai is definitely with Abdullah. He is worried about his own interests. Also, because he is a Pashtun, Abdullah will need him, whereas Ghani does not," the government official said.
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