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Afghan Insurgent Group Leader Tells Supporters To Vote

Hizb-e Islami leader and former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
KABUL -- The Hizb-e Islami militant group says its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has urged supporters to vote in the upcoming elections in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's "Express Tribune" newspaper first reported on January 11 that Hekmatyar had sent a letter telling members to "support those candidates who are either related to us or have a positive view about the party."

The group's spokesman, Ghairat Baheer, told RFE/RL on January 14 that "no final decision" had been made on whether the group would put forward candidates for provincial elections on April 5, the same date as the presidential vote.

Headed by Hekmatyar, a former warlord, Hizb-e Islami is the second-largest Afghan insurgent group.

Hizb-e Islami's participation in the election would come as a boost to Kabul, which has long tried to bring the group into the political fold.