Karzai's Rival May Boycott Runoff Vote

Abdullah demands overhaul of Afghan election commission
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2009 1:25 AM CDT
Abdullah Abdullah speaks to his supporter in Kabul yesterday.   (AP Photo/Farzana Wahidy)
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(Newser) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s strongest political challenger may boycott next month's planned runoff election if the country’s election commission is not completely purged of Karzai supporters. Abdullah Abdullah has consistently charged that without a commission overhaul the vote-rigging which marred the original election is bound to be repeated. Diplomats worry that Abdullah’s withdrawal could wreck the nation’s fragile democracy.

With the runoff nearing, both Karzai and Abdullah are jockeying for position. Karzai earlier rejected a power-sharing agreement with Abdullah, who voiced support for such a coalition over a run-off. Now "Abdullah sees the writing on the wall—that he's likely to lose a runoff. Now's the time for him to strike a deal if there is any chance of one," a UN official told the Washington Post.