Rumours grow that Abdullah will quit election

Kabul was awash with rumours that Abdullah Abdullah could be on the point of pulling out of the second round of the Afghan elections. They have been organised after President Hamid Karzai was deprived of victory following allegations of widespread fraud.

A deadline set by Dr Abdullah expires today for the implementation and managing of sweeping changes to the run-off election, scheduled for 7 November.

The former foreign minister has been holding extensive talks with his supporters and foreign diplomats on whether he should carry on with his campaign.

Yesterday Dr Abdullah refused to answer questions from the media about his position on continuing with the run-off. It is expected that he will announce whether he continues with his challenge in the very near future.

While the main factor behind the holding of the second round was international disquiet at the scale of ballot rigging carried out by President Karzai's supporters, both he and Dr Abdullah have been under sustained Western pressure to reach an agreement.

Organising another set of polls presents severe logistical and security problems. The onset of winter is creating major difficulties for polling in the northern provinces, and the murderous Taliban attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul this week, killing five UN workers, carried the menace of more of the same.

There was also unease at the prospect of the new polls reinforcing sectarian divisions between the followers of Mr Karzai, a Pashtun, and Dr Abdullah who has Pashtun and Tajik ancestry but draws his support mainly from the Tajik community.

On the other hand, if Dr Abdullah withdraws from the race because his conditions for continuing – which include the sacking of election commissioners deemed to be the President's placemen – have not been met, Mr Karzai's default victory would do nothing to improve the tarnished image of Afghan democracy. It would leave the impression that Mr Karzai has won on a vote widely regarded as rigged, and with his chief opponent claiming in effect that the same sort of malpractice would continue in the next round.

Although talks have been going on behind the scenes, there is no clear evidence, say Afghan and foreign sources, that Mr Karzai and Dr Abdullah have arrived at an understanding. Although both men have served together in government in the past, they have exchanged many bitter words in recent months. Dr Abdullah repeatedly stressed during the recriminations over the last elections that he would not serve under Mr Karzai. However, it is widely accepted that Dr Abdullah has little to gain from carrying on with a contest which Mr Karzai, coming from the majority Pashtun community, is almost bound to win. The US administration has played a key role in insisting on a second round but Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, has publicly acknowledged that Mr Karzai is going to emerge as the winner.

Western diplomats hinted yesterday that Dr Abdullah could declare that he was dropping out to spare his country the aggravation of fresh elections. In return, a series of reforms may be wrung out of Mr Karzai, including more stringent checks on corruption, and a degree of decentralisation.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering