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Afghanistan's Dostum Leaves Country After Vote

Dostum supported Karzai in the vote
KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghan ex-militia chief Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to the country days before last week's presidential election to campaign for incumbent Hamid Karzai, has again left, his spokesman has said.

The United States and United Nations had both expressed concern when Dostum, a leader of the ethnic Uzbek community and former communist general who led militias through decades of civil war, flew into the country on the eve of the vote.

His support among millions of his fellow ethnic Uzbeks could yet prove decisive in the outcome of the election, which is close and has yet to be fully published.

"First of all General Dostum came back on the invitation of the Afghan government to support Karzai in election," spokesman Naqibullah Fayeq said. "President Karzai got remarkable support from the Uzbek community due to General Dostum."

Fayeq said Dostum had returned to Turkey on August 26, but intended to come back to Afghanistan again at the end of the Ramadan holy month, which began last week.

Dostum had been living in Turkey for months, until the Afghan government announced hours before his return that he was free to come home. It had never been made clear whether his exile was self-imposed or ordered.

He has denied numerous accusations of human rights abuses, including that his forces were responsible for killing Taliban prisoners in 2001. The United States said when he returned that it was concerned about his rights record and the prospect of him possibly being given a post in Karzai's government.

Fayeq said one of Dostum's goals in Turkey would be to meet U.S. officials and clear his name over the rights accusations.