An influential Afghan governor who had signaled his intention to run for president said on Saturday that he will not be leaving President Hamid Karzai in an increasingly strong position to win re-election.
Nangarhar Gov Gul Agha Sherzai, who met with President Barack Obama last year when he visited Afghanistan before the US elections, was seen as one of the few possible candidates who could have threatened Karzai's hopes for sealing another five-year term in the August 20 vote.
Despite Karzai's declining popularity, no realistic challengers have emerged among the dozens who are likely to run. The deadline for candidates to register is May 8.
Karzai has led Afghanistan since soon after a US-backed invasion ousted the hard-line Taliban regime from power in late 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States. He swept Afghanistan's first post-Taliban election in 2004.
A spike in fighting against Taliban insurgents in recent years and a rising civilian death toll have eroded Karzai's standing, as have accusations from conservatives that he is a puppet of Western powers. His government is also widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective.
Sherzai's spokesman, lawmaker Gul Khalid Pushtoon, told The Associated Press this past week that Sherzai had intended to register his candidacy today.