Former warlord joins Abdullah in Afghan election

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A former Afghan warlord nicknamed “the bulldozer” joined front-runner Abdullah Abdullah’s presidential campaign on Saturday, as deal-making hots up before the decisive run-off vote next month.

Gul Agha Sherzai, from Kandahar, won less than two per cent of the vote in the April 5 election, but is seen as able to deliver some support from Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group.

Abdullah, whose support is strongest in Tajik ethnic areas, came first by a large margin in the election, though he fell short of the 50 per cent threshold needed for outright victory, according to preliminary results.

“I, as a representative of my team, join Dr. Abdullah’s team to bring security and welfare to the people of Afghanistan,” Sherzai told a press conference with Abdullah.

“We have joined together for the country and the people.”

Sherzai, a former governor of Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces, earned his nickname “the bulldozer” for pushing though major road and infrastructure projects — as well as for his forceful personality.

Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani will compete in a head-to-head election scheduled for June 7.