Dostum’s Uzbek Factor in Afghanistan Elections

by Laurence on 10/7/2004

From Reuters:

Dostum will probably sweep votes among the Uzbeks, his ethnic minority kin, but his appeal to Karzai’s dominant Pashtun clan as well as Tajiks, Hazaras and others is less certain.
In fact, political analysts say Dostum is more likely to become an influence in the election if he withdraws before the poll and throws his support behind another candidate. But with just two days to go for the polls, that is not going to happen.
He lobbied hard for the defence portfolio in Kabul, but gave up after it became clear that Karzai had no place for him at his table.
Relations between the two have been strained, partly over Dostum’s slowness to disarm his militia in the north and partly over his vision of a federalist Afghanistan as opposed to Karzai’s preference for a centralised state.
Dostum has rarely visited the capital, even though he was an adviser to the president before he announced his candidacy. On Wednesday, he was in Kabul for a campaign rally, and didn’t miss the opportunity to take a dig at Karzai.
“I have fought for Afghanistan all my life. I am not like those who spent their time in Germany or Europe,” Dostum said, a reference to the years Karzai spent in exile.

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