Abdullah Pulls Out of Runoff

Cites Karzai's refusal to reform election system
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2009 7:23 AM CST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused Abdullah's demands to overhaul the election system to prevent a repeat of the widespread fraud in the initial round of voting.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – The only contender to unseat Afghan President Hamid Karzai today followed through on his threat to boycott the runoff election slated for Nov. 7. Citing Karzai's refusal to overhaul the election system as impetus for his decision, Abdullah Abdullah declared a “transparent election is not possible” at a news conference—handing Karzai a second five-year term and potentially tossing the fragile country into an uproar.

Foreign diplomats in Afghanistan tell the New York Times that Abdullah's move could undermine Karzai's legitimacy or lead to violence—particularly if Abdullah denounced Karzai. While he did not, when asked if he would call for his supporters to boycott the runoff, Abdullah said only, "I have not made that call."