Abdullah withdraws from Afghan elections
Sunday 01 November 2009
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.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Ed Miliband deemed less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...