Abdullah Abdullah is set to reveal whether he will run in next weekend's Afghan presidential election run-off after incumbent Hamid Karzai snubbed a series of demands laid down by his challenger.
AFP - Abdullah Abdullah is to announce Sunday whether he will run in next weekend's Afghan presidential election run-off after the incumbent Hamid Karzai snubbed a series of demands laid down by his challenger.
Abdullah, a former foreign minister, is due to reveal his decision at a meeting of supporters at around 09:30 am (0500 GMT) amid expectations he will either call a boycott of the November 7 ballot or that he has reached some form of power-sharing agreement with his rival.
Following widespread fraud in the August first round, Abdullah had demanded Karzai sack the head of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Azizullah Ludin and suspend four ministers who campaigned for the incumbent.
Abdullah's camp had set a deadline of Saturday for Karzai to bow to his demands and supporters say that he will not take part in a contest that will not be free and fair.
But the demands have so far received short shrift, with the IEC saying Ludin can only be dismissed by the supreme court while Karzai says Abdullah has no right to interfere in ministerial positions.
Asked what Abdullah's stance would be if his conditions were not met, a lawmaker involved in his campaign said the candidate would not take part in the run-off.
"If our conditions are not met and an election takes place on November 7, that will not be an election but a fraud trap and we will not go for a fraud trap, we will not participate," Ahmad Bezad told AFP.
The New York Times website reported late Saturday that Abdullah had already decided to withdraw, citing Western diplomats in Kabul and people close to Abdullah.
The newspaper quoted unnamed aides saying Abdullah was yet to decide whether to publicly denounce Karzai or to step down without a fight.
But a senior official in Abdullah's campaign team told AFP: "He has not made a decision, not yet. Tomorrow (Sunday) he will come out with a statement. It will be clear tomorrow."
A boycott of the poll would plunge Afghanistan into further uncertainty with the country in political limbo since the first round of voting on August 20, which was tainted by widespread vote-rigging.
Karzai's share of the vote in the first round fell to 49.67 percent after a UN-backed watchdog deemed around a quarter of all votes cast to be fraudulent.
Insistent that the fraud had been overstated, Karzai only agreed to a run-off under extensive diplomatic pressure from Washington, highlighted when he made the run-off announcement standing alongside top US Senator John Kerry.
Asked whether the outcome of a run-off with only one candidate would result in a legitimate government, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said such situations are "not unprecedented."
"We see that happen in our own country where, for whatever combination of reasons, one of the candidates decides not to go forward. I don't think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election," she said.
"I'm not going to comment on what any of the candidates might decide to do," Clinton said, adding: "It's a personal choice which may or may not be made."
Abdullah won just over 30 percent in the first round and has a mountain to climb if he is to overhaul Karzai in the run-off.
As well as fears over fraud, the build-up to next Saturday's election is taking place against the backdrop of a raging Taliban insurgency.
The Islamists, whose ouster in late 2001 by a US-led coalition led to Karzai's coming to power, have promised to intensify their attacks in the wake of a deadly assault last week on a UN guesthouse.
Date created : 2009-11-01