Another ally deserts Karzai

July 29, 2004 at 10:58 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, July 29 (UPI) -- Another key ally has deserted Afghan President Hamid Karzai and has decided to support his rival candidate in the presidential election.

Foreign Minister Abdullah told reporters in Kabul Wednesday he would support former education minister, Yunus Qanuni, in the election scheduled Oct. 9.

On Monday, Karzai dropped his powerful defense minister, Mohammed Fahim, from his ticket and instead chose two less prominent political figures as his running mates.

Soon after the announcement, Qanuni, an ally of the defense minister, resigned from the cabinet and said he would run against Karzai. Fahim is already backing Qanuni against Karzai.

Fahim, Qanuni and Abdullah are the three main leaders of the Northern Alliance militia that took over Kabul after the collapse of the Taliban regime in December 2001 and still retains thousands of troops in the Afghan capital.

The militia also has thousands more troops in northern Afghanistan while Fahim is considered one of the most powerful warlords in the country.

Karzai's move aims at reducing the influence of warlords in the country and also to increase his support among the ethnic Pashtun majority.

Fahim, Qanuni and Abdullah are all ethnic Tajiks while Karzai is a Pashtun.

Topics: Hamid Karzai
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