Campaigning for the Afghan presidential election in late September started on Sunday amid growing attacks and fear of fraud in the militant-plagued country.

A total of 18 candidates, including incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, embarked on a two-month campaign trail which will conclude on September 25.

A statement of the Election Commission said the campaign would conclude 48 hours before voting. Besides ensuring transparency in the upcoming presidential poll, the election body also called on all eligible voters to use their franchise in favor of their favorite candidates on election day.

President Ghani and Afghan Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah kicked off their first campaign event on Sunday in Kabul. Local residents took part in the events to support their candidates.

Addressing supporters at a large gathering in Kabul, Ghani outlined his aims to improve security, implement the rule of law, improve transport infrastructure, hospitals and mosques if he were to serve for another five years.

Several former officials and politicians, including former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, are lining up to challenge Ghani who formed a unity government with his main rival Abdullah Abdullah after a bitterly disputed 2014 election marred by concerns over voter fraud.

The presidential election, scheduled for September 28, has been postponed twice due to a lack of preparation and could be overshadowed by ongoing peace efforts with the Taliban.

Many say they are delighted to see the start of the twice-delayed election.

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