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President Karzai's brother declares his withdrawal from Afghan election

Published on Mar 6, 2014 2:26 PM
In this photograph taken on February 4, 2014, Afghan presidential candidate Qayum Karzai participates in a televised debate at Tolo TV station in Kabul. Afghan former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul scored major boost to his presidential election campaign on March 6, 2014, with the brother of current leader Hamid Karzai dropping out of the race and endorsing him. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother withdrew from the country's election race on Thursday, and endorsed former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul to lead the country as Nato troops leave after 13 years of fighting the Taleban.

"I and my team, we consider ourselves as a key part of this new alliance and declare my support for Doctor Zalmai Rassoul," Mr Qayum Karzai told a press conference in Kabul.

The withdrawal is a major boost to Mr Rassoul's presidential election campaign. Mr Rassoul, a softly-spoken loyalist of the current president, called a joint press conference in Kabul. "The result of negotiations on an alliance will be revealed at the press event," a spokesman for Mr Qayum Karzai told AFP.

President Karzai, who is constitutionally banned from standing again after serving two terms, has pledged not to publicly endorse any candidate in the April 5 elections. His brother's endorsement of Mr Rassoul would be widely seen as a signal that Mr Rassoul is the incumbent's favoured choice to lead Afghanistan into a testing new era, without the aid of Nato combat troops to fight the Taleban insurgents.

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