Afghanistan: Ballot versus bullets
There are 41 candidates in the presidential race, including the incumbent, Hamid Karzai.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in an attack on a convoy of western troops in Kabul. Hours after the attack, the government banned the media from reporting suicide bombings and other violence during the election.
Image: Observers feel President Hamid Karzai has an advantage.
Tough road ahead for the Afghan people
Seventeen million of Afghanistan's 30 million people are registered to vote. The minimum voting age is 18.
More than 3,000 donkeys have been being mobilised to carry election-related material to far flung areas in a country that has been ravaged by unending violence for 30 years.
Image: A donkey carries poll-related material in Afghanistan.
The man who could surprise Karzai
One of his main rivals this election is his former foreign minister, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.
An eye surgeon trained in India, Dr Abdullah was a close associate of Ahmed Shah Masoud, the legendary Afghan rebel leader who was killed by Al Qaeda assassins two days before 9/11. He represents the United National Front Opposition alliance.
Dr Abdullah says he is open to negotiation with the Taliban and indeed with militants willing to lay down their arms.
Image: Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's main rival
America's preferred nominee
Washington has fallen out of love with Karzai who they see as ineffective.
Policy makers in both the Bush and Obama administrations are impatient with Karzai's mollycoddling of Afghan warlords, his inability to crack down on the drug trade which finances the Taliban.
Ghani played a key role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, primarily as special adviser to the then United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi.
Before becoming chancellor of Kabul University he was Afghanistan's finance minister between 2002 and 2004, before he too fell out with Karzai.
Image: Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
Once a minister in Karzai's government, the France educated politician lives in a tent during the summer and with his parents, who reportedly disapprove of his almost monastic ways, during the harsh Afghan winter.
Image: Ramazan Bashardost
Will the Afghans elect a lady president?
The Taliban has urged Afghans to boycott the election, saying the outcome has already been decided by the United States.
A New York Times report said the possibility of large-scale non-participation by the Pashtuns -- the dominant ethnic community in Afghanistan, from which Karzai hails and which dominates the Taliban -- will cast a cloud over the election.
Image: A scene from the campaign in Kabul.