April 4 - Afghanistan prepares to mark a 'historic' democratic transition when it votes for a new President at the weekend. But as Hayley Platt reports, many are still struggling with the aftermath of its bitter conflict.
A splash of colour set against Afganistan's dusty landscape. Aino Mena, just outside Kandahar, has become an unlikely location for the country's wealthy elite. Once home to Taliban leaders, it's now the site of a luxury housing complex. President Karzai's property developer brother Mahmood helped to build it. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAHMOOD KARZAI, BROTHER OF AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI AND OWNER OF COMPANY INVOLVED IN BUILDING AINO MENA, SAYING: "Aino Mena has already changed Kandahar. At the time, that, in the peak of Aino Mena there are over 10,000 people working in Aino Mena and we were buying -- we had a purchasing power, buying everything from the shops, supporting the regional shops of the Kandahar." Not too far away others are struggling to make ends meet. The polls are being hailed as the first free and democratic elections. But little has changed for Daro Khan since the Taliban were toppled and Karzi took up office more than 12 years ago. He says he's disappointed the current government haven't done more to help. (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) DARO KHAN, A RESIDENT OF KANDAHAR, SAYING: "In the past election I voted in order to receive assistance from the government but I haven't received any and my life has not changed. I still live in that mud house - nothing's changed so I won't vote in the upcoming elections." The country will vote for a new President at the weekend. Karzai is barred from running a third term under the constitution. Instead the family are backing Zalmai Rassoul, former foreign minister and a close confidant of Karzai. He's one of eight contestants competing for the presidency. And could prove invaluable to the family if he wins, says Afghan politician Ahmad Behzad. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AHMAD BEHZAD, MEMBER OF THE AFGHAN PARLIAMENT, SAYING: "President Karzai is concerned that the next government will inspect his brothers' corruption and government abuses they were involved in while he was in power. Therefore President Karzai is trying to support a candidate who has the same vision in order to have immunity in the next Afghan administration." Saturday's election is expected to be marred by violence. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt proceedings and have already carried out a string of attacks. Even after the election, it could take months for a winner to be declared. Potentially leaving Afghanistan politically adrift as international forces prepare to withdraw their troops.