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Karzai to run again for Afghan election

AFGHAN President Hamid Karzai registered as a candidate for Afghanistan's August presidential election yesterday and selected a former top political leader as his new vice presidential running mate.

Wearing his trademark green and purple cloak, Karzai said he wanted to run again "to be at the service of the Afghan people," though he acknowledged there had been "some mistakes" during his five-year term as president.

Karzai's popularity has waned somewhat in recent years as civilian casualties caused by international military forces have increased and charges of government corruption persist. But so far no candidates who could challenge Karzai's hold on power have registered for the August 20 election.

One possible challenger, Nangarhar governor Gul Agha Sherzai, withdrew over the weekend following a four-hour meeting with Karzai. Another possible challenger, Dr Abdullah, the country's former foreign minister, has said he will run but has not yet filed paperwork.

In registering for re-election, Karzai made a major change to his ticket, selecting Mohammad Qasim Fahim - who has served as defense minister and interim vice president - as one of his two vice presidential running mates.

In selecting Fahim, Karzai kicked First Vice President Ahmad Zia Massood - the brother of resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massood, who was assassinated by al-Qaida two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks - off the ticket.

Muhammad Karim Khalili, the current vice president, is Karzai's other running mate.

In a reminder of the country's perilous security, a suicide bombing, a roadside bomb and a militant attack killed 24 people yesterday in three separate incidents.

The suicide bomber attacked the mayor of Mehterlam, capital of eastern Laghman province, killing six people, including the mayor and his nephew. In Zabul province, a roadside bomb exploded against a family riding on a tractor, killing 12 people, while militants attacked a convoy and killed six guards.

The presidential vote was to have been held this spring, but the Afghan election commission pushed back the date to August, saying it needed time to prepare logistics and for the security situation to improve.


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