Karzai Took Major Arm-Twisting to OK Runoff

Round 2 of Afghan election no panacea, either
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2009 7:24 AM CDT
Abdullah Abdullah speaks with journalists after a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009. He will face Hamid Karzai in a presidential runoff election.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – Hamid Karzai's concession yesterday that an election runoff was necessary may have brought Afghanistan back from political paralysis, but another ballot is no sure solution. The potential for fraud—more than a quarter of first round ballots were thrown out—has not abated, the New York Times notes. Today Abdullah Abdullah said he's prepared for a runoff, but he left open the possibility of a unity government with Karzai.

The developments follow days of hard-press diplomacy in Washington, London, and Kabul. John Kerry, who flew to Afghanistan, told Karzai of his own disappointment in the 2004 election to win him over, while Gordon Brown and three Obama Cabinet members called Karzai and threatened international isolation. Barack Obama himself spoke to Abdullah, although the candidate says he did not suggest a coalition government, as some in Washington would like to see. "I am not under any pressure from the international community for any scenario," he said.