KABUL (Reuters) - There is no doubt who the strongmen are backing in Afghanistans presidential election on Thursday. One by one, the ethnic chieftains whose militia armies dominated the country during decades of war, have lined up to pledge their support for the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai. Polls show that should be enough to keep the veteran ruler in power for another five years - if not with a first-round victory this week, then in a run-off six weeks later. But many Afghans and foreign diplomats worry that backroom deals made to secure Karzais re-election could restore old guerrilla bosses to positions of patronage and power and set back efforts to improve how the country is run. Definitely, the next government of Karzai will include some violators of human rights, commanders and warlords, said Mohammad Qasim Akhgar, an Afghan writer and analyst. Government positions, cabinet or provincial posts, will be distributed on the basis of the percentage of the votes they bring to Karzai. I think this is clear fact and a done deal. Karzai, who took power in an internationally brokered deal after the Taliban fell in 2001 and easily won the countrys first democratic presidential election three years later, says his outreach to former guerrillas is not aimed at dividing power among fiefs, but at creating national partnership. Many of Karzais latest ex-guerrilla allies are men the president had carefully managed to sideline in recent years. Most recently Karzai won a last-minute endorsement from Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a former guerrilla commander whom Karzai had summoned to Kabul years ago to remove from his powerful post as governor of the western province of Herat. In the north, Karzai has secured the backing of Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek guerrilla commander with a particularly brutal reputation, who won 10 per cent of the vote in 2004. Karzais two vice presidential running mates are former militia commanders, from the Tajik and Hazara groups. He has also won the backing of former guerrilla chiefs from his own Pashtun ethnic group, such as Gul Agha Sherzai, a powerful governor who had contemplated running against him. After helping the United States remove the Taliban in 2001, many were given top positions in Karzais government, which they held onto for years, fighting turf battles, growing conspicuously wealthy and building themselves marble palaces in Kabul. Under pressure from the international community, over the last couple of years Karzai has replaced some with technocrats and professionals. The problem is that this government has turned into a contract among ethnic entrepreneurs, Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister said during a campaign trip last week. There are a number of people who in the name of being Pashtun or Hazara or Uzbek or other groups come and claim to speak for them. They dont speak for these people. They havent done anything to change the lives of these people, he said. Daad Noorani, a veteran journalist, said it is simply a fact of life in Afghanistan that no one can hold power without the support of the former Mujahideen. There will not be much change. The Mujahideen groups are another layer of power in Afghanistan and whoever has their support will win, and that person is Karzai.