Abdullah withdraws from Afghan elections

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has quit an election run-off today after accusing the government of not meeting his demands for a fair vote, but said he was not calling for a boycott.

Pressure had been growing on Abdullah to withdraw from the contest against President Hamid Karzai, seen by analysts as favourite to win the run-off after getting the most votes in the fraud-marred first round on Aug. 20.

"I will not take part in the election ... I have not taken this decision easily," Abdullah told supporters in Kabul.

Karzai's campaign team said the Nov. 7 run-off would go ahead despite Abdullah's withdrawal.

Afghanistan has been racked by weeks of political uncertainty, with security also a major concern after a resurgent Taliban vowed to disrupt the presidential run-off.

With Afghanistan's political future hanging in the balance, US President Barack Obama is also weighing whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Obama met his top military leaders on Friday as part of a strategic review.

A spokesperson for the White House could not immediately be reached for comment on Abdullah's decision.

Abdullah said he quit because the demands he had sought from the government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC), including the sacking of Afghanistan's top election official in the wake of the tainted first round, had not been met.

His voice faltering, Abdullah told tribal elders and supporters gathered in a huge tent in the west of the capital he had made his decision "in the interests of the nation".

Later asked by reporters if he would urge his supporters to boycott the vote, Abdullah said: "I have not made that call."

Abdullah's campaign director, Abdulsattar Murad, said talks with Karzai were not on the table at the moment and that Abdullah, the incumbent president's former foreign minister, would likely hold a news conference later on Sunday.

Abdullah's running mate, Homayoun Assefy, said talks with Karzai could happen after the proposed run-off.

"Our campaign is finished," Assefy told Reuters.

"We are not participating. Now it is up to the IEC and we don't have any trust in the IEC."

Western diplomats had suggested it was no longer a question of whether he would pull out but the manner in which he did it.

"Abdullah has realised how painful a second round will be for the country. The issue for Abdullah now is how does he withdraw: by saving face gracefully or boycotting the run-off," one Western official in Kabul, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

Analysts and diplomats believe withdrawing from the contest, perhaps as part of a power-sharing deal in return for a top government post in Karzai's next government, would spare the country further political pain and insurgent violence.

But Karzai's campaign team said it would go ahead with the vote anyway.

The run-off was triggered when a UN-led investigation found widespread fraud, mainly in favour of Karzai, had been committed during the first round.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor