Afghanistan’s presidential challenger Abdullah Abdullah has confirmed he is pulling out of the country’s run-off election next Saturday. He made the announcement to tribal elders gathered in a huge tent in Kabul.
Abdullah said he had withdrawn from the poll because demands he made for a fair vote had not been met. “I have not taken this decision easily,” he declared. When asked if he would urge his supporters to boycott the ballot, Abdullah said: “I have not made that call.” The run-off was triggered when a UN-led investigation found massive fraud, mainly in favour of incumbent Hamid Karzai, had been committed in the first round. A deadline that Abdullah had given Karzai to sack Afghanistan’s top election official to avoid a repeat of the tainted first round passed without action yesterday. The President got the most votes in August and his campaign team says it plans to go ahead with the run-off despite the withdrawal of his only rival.