Accessibility links

Breaking News

Karzai's Brother Renounces U.S. Citizenship To Enter Afghan Politics


Mahmud Karzai talks on January 24 to RFE/RL about his recent step to cancel his U.S. citizenship.
KABUL -- Mahmud Karzai, a brother of Afghanistan's president, says he has renounced his U.S. citizenship to launch a political career.

"The reason I gave up my U.S. passport and citizenship is that I have been working in Afghanistan for the past 12 years," Karzai told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in an exclusive interview. "I have thoroughly thought about it. I might become politically active, therefore I decided to give up my [U.S.] passport."

Karzai said, however, that he will not run in Afghanistan's presidential election in 2014, when his brother, Hamid , finishes his second and final term as president.

"At this point, I don't want to be considered as a possible contender for presidency," he said. "I see there are many good [potential] candidates. It's better for me to work with them instead of considering my own candidacy."

He did say he would like a post in the next government.

"Possibly, there will be changes in Afghanistan after the 2014 [presidential election]," Karzai said. "I want to be part of those efforts and changes to rebuild Afghanistan, in some capacity."

Karzai said he has specific plans and projects to take part in rebuilding Afghanistan.

"I wish I did this in the past, but my brother was president, and people would criticize me if I get involved, therefore I didn't want to work in the government," he said.

Karzai, 57, is a wealthy entrepreneur whose business interests include banking, mining, and real estate.

He lived in the United States for many years and reportedly has owned restaurants in San Francisco, Boston, and Baltimore.

Media reports say Karzai controls a 7 percent stake in Kabul Bank, Afghanistan's largest private bank.

Last year, an independent audit found that Kabul Bank was involved in a fraud that sent nearly $900 million outside Afghanistan. Karzai denied any wrongdoing.

Karzai told Radio Free Afghanistan that he didn't have enough shares that would enable him to "take part in the bank's decision-makings."