ARLINGTON, Va. — Afghan president Hamid Karzai now faces at least two political rivals who will try to unseat him later this year.

Ashraf Ghani, former Afghan finance minister, said he will run in Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election.

"I am committed to running in a free and fair election to be held in August but will declare formally when the legal situation is clear," Ghani said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Ghani did not say what "legal situation" exists, but at the time there was an internal debate in Afghanistan about whether to hold the election in August or in April or May.

Karzai also will face Anwar Ul-haq Ahadi, who resigned as finance minister Thursday to run in the presidential election, according to Agence France-Presse.

Media reports had named Ghani as a potential contender in Afghanistan’s presidential election, but he told Stripes last month that he intended to stay out of the Afghan government unless conditions in Afghanistan deteriorated.

"The more difficult it is, the closer it’s going to get me to a positive decision," he said. "Politics is a vocation; it’s moral responsibility. When things become very difficult, I need to be there. That’s why I went back after 24 years, after 9/11."

Former interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali also has been mentioned in media reports as a possible contender in the election.

Now on the faculty of the National Defense University, Jalali said Thursday he is leaning toward running, but he will make a final decision after he goes to Afghanistan next week.

He told Stripes in February that he was under pressure to run.

"In media, in tribal areas, in cities, and universities, they are calling on me, and it has reached a point where I cannot say outrightly no, but I have to weigh my options very soon and make a decision," Jalali said.

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