Official campaign opens in Afghan presidential poll
Kabul, September 7, 2004 - The official month-long campaign for Afghanistan 's first-ever direct presidential election opened on Tuesday.
During the campaign, which lasts until Oct. 6, candidates are promised equal access to state-run media and can hold rallies and deliver speeches in the provinces. There are 18 candidates for the October vote, but the field is expected to be whittled down as the weakest candidates form alliances.
More than 10.5 million out of a population of between 25 million and 28 million have registered to vote, far surpassing earlier expectations. Voting will also take place among the hundreds of thousands of Afghans still living as refugees in neighboring Pakistan and Iran , where campaigning is also technically permitted. Victory requires 51 percent of the vote, otherwise a run-off will be called, which could delay results until November.