Karzai Looks Vulnerable in Afghan Election
President remains in shadows, relying on powerful connections
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 9:09 AM CDT
Afghan women attend in a campaign rally for presidential candidate and current President Hamid Karzai, in Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, July 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
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(Newser) – Hamid Karzai’s stranglehold on the presidency of Afghanistan may be slipping, the Washington Post reports. Though no one is expected to beat him outright in the Aug. 20 election, he may fall short of the 50.01% of the vote needed to win. That would trigger a runoff, and more importantly, “his spell would be broken,” according to one Afghan businessman. “Even his own advisers are worried.”

Karzai’s allies have held 50 rallies for him, but he hasn’t attended any of them, and he’s turned down every debate request. He’s relying on his connections with tribal, business, and militia leaders; UN officials and human rights groups say officials are improperly using their power to help him. But the opposition has yet to field a consensus candidate—or one with much charisma—so Karzai may keep his office anyway.