Abdullah Quits, Karzai Secure, US Approves:Afghanistan
The voting drama seems to be ending in Kabul, former foreign minister and presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah quit the contest, scheduled this week. This move removed the hurdle from the path of Karzai. Meanwhile White House approved the move.
President Hamid Karzai effectively secured a second term Sunday when his only challenger dropped out of the race, and the Obama administration said it was prepared to work with the man it has previously criticized to combat corruption and confront the Taliban insurgency.
President Barack Obama has been waiting for a new government in Kabul to announce whether he will send tens of thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, where the war has intensified October was the deadliest month of the eight-year war for U.S. forces. Now the country will likely be led for the next five years by a president chosen in an extremely flawed election.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah announced his decision to quit six days before the runoff election, after last-minute talks led by the U.S. and United Nations failed to produce a power-sharing agreement acceptable to Karzai, according to a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
In an emotional speech, Abdullah told supporters that he could not accept an runoff led by the same Karzai-appointed election commission that managed the fraud-marred vote in August. The runoff was set for Nov. 7 after U.N.-backed auditors annulled nearly a third of Karzai's votes as fakes.
"I will not participate in the Nov. 7 election," Abdullah said, because a "transparent election is not possible."
The Obama administration, which had been critical of Karzai's leadership, appeared to accept the outcome.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said most polls showed Abdullah would have lost the runoff anyway "so we are going to deal with the government that is there."
"And obviously there are issues we need to discuss, such as reducing the high level of corruption," Axelrod said on "Face the Nation." "These are issues we'll take up with President Karzai."
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