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Ex-warlords join for Afghan election

KABUL — Two former Afghan warlords said Thursday that they will share a ticket — one for president, the other for vice president — in next year’s elections, a vote that will help shape the country’s future following the departure of foreign combat troops.

Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, an influential lawmaker and religious scholar, registered his candidacy for the presidency for the April 5 election.

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Another former warlord, former energy and water minister Ismail Khan, will run as Sayyaf’s first vice president, and a little-known member of Afghanistan’s upper house, Abdul Wahab Irfan, as second vice president.

Registration expires Oct. 6, and four presidential candidates and their respective vice presidents have signed up so far. The most prominent is former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who was the runner-up to President Hamid Karzai in the 2009 elections and dropped out just ahead of a runoff vote following allegations of massive fraud in the first round.

Karzai can’t run for a third consecutive term and has not yet endorsed anyone. There are no clear favorites, but speculation in recent days has focused on Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, who may wind up as a consensus candidate, and Karzai’s older brother Quayum, who is a businessman and politician.

Sayyaf and Khan are best known as warlords during Afghanistan’s civil war from 1992 until the Taliban takeover in 1996, fighting against the Taliban. Previously, both also actively participated in the war against the Soviet occupation.

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