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The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday held a press conference in Kabul to announce the final list of eligible candidates for the 2014 spring Presidential and Provincial Council elections.

The announcement came after over a month of evaluations and assessments by the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). The final list contained a number of changes from the preliminary list released back in October, accounting for the findings of the ECC during its review of complaints against candidates and challenges from contenders who were previously disqualified by the IEC.

After 17 Presidential hopefuls who were cut from the preliminary list by the IEC last month filed challenges to the ECC, only one – Daoud Sultanzoy – was readmitted into the race. His addition brings the number of Presidential candidates for the April vote up from 10 to 11.

"Today, the Independent Election Commission announces the name of 11 candidates in the final list of Presidential Candidates and 2,713 for the Provincial Council Elections. In the Presidential Candidates list, only Daoud Sultanzoy's name has been added," IEC Deputy Abdul Rahman Hotak told reporters at the press conference on Wednesday.

Sultanzoy was originally cut by the IEC last month due to his having dual-citizenship with Afghanistan and the U.S.

The final list of Presidential candidates included Zalmai Rassoul, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Abdullah Abdullah, Qutbuddin Helal, Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Abdul Rahim Wardak, Qayoum Karzai, Gul Agha Sherzai, Sardar Mohammad Naeem, Hedayat Amin Arsala and Daoud Sultanzoy.

Regarding changes to the Provincial Council candidates, according to ECC officials, 116 changes were made for the final list. Seventy-six candidates were readmitted after being initially disqualified by the IEC last month, and 40 who originally made the preliminary list were cut in the final round.

The ECC did not go into any detail as to why the Election Commission's original decisions were overturned, but noted that it had received over 400 challenges from Provincial candidates who had been cut.

Those who made the preliminary list but did not see their names on the final list were said to have submitted fake educational documents.

Of the 2,713 candidates who are now eligible for the Provincial elections, 308 are women.

Officials said that while the complaints and challenges hearing process was over, they reserved the right to disqualify candidates from running if new evidence against them came to light.

The IEC asked candidates not to begin their campaigning until the official period allotted for it began in February.

"It's the second stage of election campaigns and we ask all the candidates not to start their campaigns for Presidential elections until the 2nd of February and 4th of March for the Provincial Council elections," Hotak said. "We ask them not to defy the law."

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