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Afghan Warlord To Challenge Karzai In Election

22 July 2004 -- Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum says he will run against Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai in elections this October.

Dostum, a vice minister of defense in the central government and special advisor to Karzai on northern Afghanistan, announced his candidacy to supporters today in the main northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Dostum's spokesman said he has collected the names of 10,000 backers needed to become an official candidate.

Dostum heads the mainly Uzbek Jumbesh militia that has been battling for control of northern Afghanistan with rival leader Atta Mohammed.

Karzai recently said that warlords and their private militias now a pose a bigger threat to Afghanistan than Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents.