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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Karzai braves rally outside Kabul

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Karzai braves rally outside Kabul: "Karzai braves rally outside Kabul
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended his first campaign rally outside the capital, Kabul, just four days before landmark elections.
He flew to Ghazni, 100km south of Kabul to address a crowd of about 10,000.
Two other leading presidential candidates also held rallies - Yunus Qanuni in Kabul and General Abdul Rashid Dostum in Mazar-e-Sharif.
There was massive security for Mr Karzai - violence by the Taleban has hampered campaigning in many areas.
Mr Karzai's only other campaign foray outside the capital last month was abandoned when a rocket was fired at his helicopter.
Killing condemned
The BBC's Andrew North in Ghazni says a lively crowd holding colourful banners and portraits of Mr Karzai gathered to hear him speak on Tuesday.
He urged people to support him and help the country recover from decades of war.
'Brothers and sisters, I ask you to vote for me freely, with no pressure. We want a proud Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, a peaceful Afghanistan,' he told the crowd.
His arrival was accompanied by massive security, with Apache attack helicopters and A-10 tank buster aircraft guarding the president's helicopter.
After the rally, the president mingled with the crowd to the discomfort of his US guards.
When I see this number of people, in their thousands, I'm delighted and I'm sure that I will win
Hamid Karzai

He shook hands with an old man, telling his guards: 'Don't push him! Don't push him! This is democracy. This is emotion!'
One of Mr Karzai's leading rivals, Mr Qanuni, told 2,000 people at a Kabul football stadium the election would be a 'transition from dictatorship to democracy and e"

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