Kabul, 28 Jan 2014 (AP) - The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) is urging all candidates in the upcoming Presidential elections for a  honest campaigning based on substantive platforms, not ethnic ties. 

The statement came only a few days before the official campaign period starts on February 2. 

The April elections will mark a pivotal moment for Afghanistan. Many commentators have portrayed the upcoming elections as the point in which Afghan democracy can be solidified and the country's post-war future will be launched in the right direction. 

However, with the current state of security nationwide and the country's history of electoral fraud, that will not happen automatically. 
According to FEFA Chair Nader Naderi, much responsibility falls on the shoulders of the candidates of the elections. 

"The Afghan people should vote on the basis of the programs and ideas of a candidate, not on the basis of his ethnicity and racial relations," Naderi said. "This would ensure Afghanistan's political maturity and democratic values." 

Afghan politics in the past have been largely brokered along ethnic lines. However, this year, civil society activists like Naderi have started a major campaign to push candidates to articulate their policy goals and to inform the public about it.
Many Afghans support those efforts.  In particular young Afghans are encouraging the candidates to distance themselves from ethnic, racial, linguistic and regional affiliations in their bids for office. 

The Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) welcomed the conference of Presidential candidates in Kabul, just days ahead of the beginning of the official campaign period. 
"This conference is aiming at exchanging views and settling our issues and problems and formulating our roadmap for the future," said Ahmad Wali Masoud, the Chairman of the Masoud Foundation, which helped coordinate the event. 

Though they may not agree on the specific issues, all the candidates agreed that Afghanistan has to unify and needs to become a more stable nation with an inclusive government. 

"We need the continuous support of the international community, it is a critical need in serving our national interests," Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said. 

For the most part, candidates have been relatively subdued in their engagement with current issues facing the Karzai government. But all have expressed support for the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and criticism of Karzai for delaying it. 

At the conclusion of the conference, the Presidential candidates pledged to ensure the April vote is transparent and fair.