KABUL (Pajhwok): Of 307 provincial council (PC) members interviewed by Pajhwok Afghan News, 65 support presidential runner Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai while 61back Dr. Abdullah Abduullah.
Based on telephonic conversations with this news agency over the past month, 51 PC members favoured Dr. Zalmai Rassoul for the top office. Pajhwok tried to obtain the views of all 420 public representatives on whom they will vote for in the April ballot.
Twenty-three of them PC members are no longer in office, having either resigned or died. Of the 307 interviewed, 64,1 percent said they would vote for three presidential candidates — Ghani (15.4 percent), Abdullah (14.5 percent) and Rassoul (12.1 percent).
The remaining 22 council members (5.2 percent) said they would support Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Gul Agha Sherzai, Qutbuddin Hilal and Hidayat Amin Arsala. A dozen council members supported Sayyaf, five Sherzai, four Hilal and one Arsala.
1. Dr. Abdullah
In 27 provinces, 61 provincial council members (names available with Pajhwok) said they would vote for Abdullah, who has no support among provincial council members in seven provinces.
2. Dr. Ashraf Ghani
Supported by 65 PC members (names available with Pajhwok) in 27 provinces, the former finance minister has no backing in seven provinces — Panjsher, Parwan, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Zabul, Baghlan and Laghman.
3. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
Fifty-one provincial council members (names available with Pajhwok) in 19 provinces support Rassoul, who has no backing in 15 provinces — Bamyan, Daikundi, Nuristan, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Sar-i-Pul, Samangan, Jawzjan, Farah, Badghis, Paktika, Khost, Parwan and Kapisa.
4: Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf
Sayyaf was pledged support by 12 provincial council members (names available with Pajhwok) in eight provinces – Kabul, Parwan, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Kunduz, Takhar and Laghman.
5: Mohammad Shafique Gul Agha Sherzai
In five provinces, five provincial council members (names available with Pajhwok) said they would vote for Sherzai, former governor of Nangarhar.
6: Qutbuddin Hilal
Four provincial council members (names available with Pajhwok) in three provinces said they would support Hilal, a leader of the Hezb-i-Islami, at the polls.
7: Hidayat Amin Arsala
Only one provincial council member in Helmand, Haji Abdullah Jan, says he will vote for Arsala.
In 31 provinces, 108 council members (names available with Pajhwok) say they are still undecided on whom to vote for. Council members, seeking their reelection, did not name any presidential candidate of their choice because they feared doing so could engender their own bids.
Several council members (names available with Pajhwok) said they were undecided due to possible electoral alliances between presidential candidates. If their preferred candidate dropped out of the race, it could land them in an embarrassing situation, they believed.
Some council candidates would seek the reimbursement of campaign costs in return for supporting a particular presidential runner. Around 2,600 individuals remain in the race for 457 provincial council seats after 115 were disqualified.