KABUL, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Qutbudin Helal, a senior leader of anti-government Hekmatyar-led Islamic party the Hizb-e-Islami of Afghanistan, has switched side and registered his name with the election body on Saturday to contest in the upcoming Afghan presidential elections, set for April next year.
"I am an independent candidate for the Presidential elections, and my objective is to serve the nation if elected," Helal said in a brief chat with journalists after registering his name with the election commission.
A close aide to Gulbudin Hekmatyar, the leader of his own faction Hizb-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, Helal had served as acting Prime Minister during Mujahideen factions' rule in Kabul in 1990s.
Like the Taliban outfit, the Hekmatyar-led party of Hizb-e- Islami has been fighting the U.S.-led military coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past decade, and Helal's split has been regarded as a big blow to Hikmatyar's faction of Hizb-e-Islami, according to political observers.
The registration of presidential candidates is set for Sept. 16 to Oct. 5 and so far six presidential aspirants have registered with the election body to contest the third presidential race in post-Taliban Afghanistan slated for April 5, 2014.