Karzai Challenger Rejects Plan to Share Power

Abdullah wants interim government: 'Karzai's term is over'
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2009 6:19 AM CDT
Abdullah Abdullah, the toughest rival against President Hamid Karzai in presidential election, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – Abdullah Abdullah, who came in second in the first round of Afghanistan's presidential election, is calling for an interim government to take over the country if it's too difficult or dangerous to organize a runoff in the coming weeks. The challenger to Hamid Karzai also rejected suggestions of a power-sharing deal, mooted in Washington lately, which Abdullah's spokesman called "against the law." Karzai is expected to concede that he did not win 50% of the vote later today.

The Obama administration says it wants a "legitimate government" in Afghanistan, though it has stopped short of saying it must be elected. In private, both Karzai and Abdullah had been open to sharing power, but ironing out details would have taken months. If a runoff can't be held until spring, one possible solution gaining popularity may be a loya jirga—a traditional Afghan congress that makes decisions via negotiation and consensus-building.