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Afghan President Karzai’s Brothers to Offer him Role if Elected

File photo of Qayum Karzai, the older brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking during a gathering in Kandahar province

KABUL – As President Hamid Karzai’s brothers began a campaign this week to take power in war-shattered Afghanistan, they left open the prospect that the incumbent will be able to use family ties to remain in government after his second term ends next April. Despite the years of feuding that has riven the hugely wealthy clan, the Karzai brothers plan to offer the outgoing president, who is constitutionally barred from running again, a position in their government.

“I think he deserves a role,” elder brother Qayum, who will stand in the presidential election, told Reuters. “Afghanistan is particularly in need of senior people like the president, who have worked for 13 years to keep the country together.” The election is considered the most crucial since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, which brought Hamid Karzai to power, and an opportunity to push the country away from years of damaging allegations of corruption and maladministration.

Analysts say a successful Karzai family alliance could shield the outgoing president from being pursued over graft allegations. A third brother, the business-minded Mahmoud, will support Qayum’s bid to rule the country, seeing an official role for himself too if they win. He agreed that Hamid, the youngest of the three, could play an official role.

“My criticism is based on policy, not his personality. Mr. Karzai is a great man. In fact, if we win, he might be our political adviser. We will ask him,” Mahmoud Karzai told Reuters in a separate interview. During two terms as president, Karzai has had a rocky relationship with many of his family members, but government officials and analysts still expect him to back Qayum’s tilt at the presidency.

His siblings have already promised not to investigate allegations of corruption in his administration. “We have pledged not to investigate the past,” Mahmoud said. “Move forward, because what has happened has happened, and if you investigate stuff like that, you might create big political problems.” (Reuters)

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