Saying it was in the “best interest” of his supporters, Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai, announced Sunday that he was pulling out of a runoff election scheduled for this week. It is unknown right now if the election will occur, but Abdullah said that he was “absolutely not” calling on his supporters to boycott one, and pledged to oppose any violence related to the runoff. “I’ve called on them to stay calm, patient,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
From Kabul, Tom Coghlan of the Times of London observes:
The withdrawal of Dr Abdullah leaves an election process with battered credibility and a nominal victor, Mr Karzai, whose supporters have already been convicted of a spectacular million vote fraud in the first round of voting.
For the country’s Western backers the elections now represent nothing more than a damage limitation process rather than the hoped for democracy building exercise.
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