Abdullah pulls out of Afghan vote

UPDATE NOV 3: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pledged to lead an “effective, clean” government, a day after winning a new five-year term. ~ No, really

UPDATE NOV 2: Karzai declared Afghan president, run-off cancelled

President Hamid Karzai’s rival in the second round of the Afghan presidential election has announced in Kabul that he is withdrawing from the poll.

Abdullah Abdullah had set out conditions he wanted to be met for the contest to be considered fair.

But Mr Karzai rejected his demand that election officials who presided over the first round should be dismissed.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a pull-out would not invalidate the legitimacy of the vote.

“We see that happen in our own country where, for whatever combination of reasons, one of the candidates decides not to go forward,” Mrs Clinton told reporters in the United Arab Emirates.

But the BBC’s Andrew North, in Kabul, says Dr Abdullah’s withdrawal means this is uncharted territory, and it is unclear what will happen next.

There has been much speculation that there could be some kind of deal which would see Dr Abdullah pull out – and possibly the emergence of a national unity government, our correspondent says.

** Afghan leader Karzai to go ahead with run-off
** The new Afghan election, just like the old Afghan election ~ Peter Galbraith
** Sacked UN official Peter Galbraith accuses Karzai of running second poll fraud
** SNAP ANALYSIS-Afghan leader Karzai’s legitimacy under cloud

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  • Karzai Rival Says He Is Withdrawing From Runoff

    Published: November 1, 2009

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Abdullah Abdullah, the chief rival to President Hamid Karzai, announced on Sunday that he would withdraw from the Nov. 7 Afghan runoff election, effectively handing a new term to Mr. Karzai but potentially damaging the government’s credibility.

    Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Abdullah said that the Afghan people should not accept the results of an election run by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, which has been accused of favoring Mr. Karzai.

    “I will not participate in the Nov. 7 election,” Mr. Abdullah said, because a “transparent election is not possible.”

    Mr. Abdullah said that Mr. Karzai’s government had not been legitimate since May, when the initial round of balloting was originally to have taken place.

    Before Mr. Abdullah’s announcement, American and other Western diplomats said they were worried that a defiant statement by Mr. Abdullah could lead to violence and undermine Mr. Karzai’s legitimacy, and they were urging him to bow out gracefully. Obama administration officials have scrambled for weeks to end the deadlock, trying to ensure a smooth government transition as President Obama weighs whether to increase the American military presence in Afghanistan.

    People close to Mr. Abdullah said that his representative met with Mr. Karzai on Saturday but that they were unable to make any progress on the issue that brought the two campaigns to loggerheads: Mr. Abdullah’s demands that the Afghan election system be overhauled to head off more fraud in the second round. After the first round of voting, a United Nations-backed panel threw out nearly a million of Mr. Karzai’s ballots — one-third of his total — on the ground that they were fake.

    The status of the runoff vote itself remained an open question after Mr. Abdullah’s speech. Afghan officials said it seemed likely that the vote would simply be canceled; the possibility of Taliban violence alone would appear to render pointless another Afghan election where the winner was known in advance.

    When asked by reporters if he was calling for his supporters to boycott the runoff, Mr. Abdullah said, “I have not made that call.”

    The election deadlock over the last nine weeks has highlighted the Afghan state’s fragility and has showed deep and growing divisions among Afghans. And it has, like so many other recent events here, posed a worsening problem for American and other Western leaders, who have found themselves stuck with a leader who has lost the support of large numbers of Afghans, and whose government is widely regarded as corrupt.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, traveling in Abu Dhabi, gave the administration’s only comment on Saturday in response to the reports that Mr. Abdullah might withdraw. “We see that happen in our own country where, for whatever combination of reasons, one of the candidates decides not to go forward,” she said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election. It’s a personal choice which may or may not be made.”

    The concern among diplomats here on Saturday was that Mr. Abdullah would denounce Mr. Karzai even as he bowed out of the race, possibly causing greater anger, and even violence, among his followers. American and Western diplomats were leaning on Mr. Abdullah to pull out with little rancor and to urge his supporters to accept the fact that Mr. Karzai would be president.

    Mr. Karzai’s supporters were also hoping Mr. Abdullah would choose that course. Over the past month, as the evidence of vote stealing piled up, Mr. Karzai’s ministers carried on with extraordinary self-confidence, portraying the fraud, and the runoff itself, as a nuisance that, once overcome, would allow them to get on with their jobs.

    Against a backdrop of bargaining and diplomatic activity, Mr. Karzai stayed silent publicly. Only last month, Mr. Karzai succumbed to pressure from American and other Western officials, agreeing to accept the verdict of a United Nations-backed commission that put his vote total at under 50 percent.

    To the horror of American officials here, Mr. Karzai had strongly considered overriding the Election Complaint Commission, a United Nations-backed body that found that nearly a million ballots had been forged for Mr. Karzai, and declaring himself the winner. Mr. Karzai still held a commanding lead over Mr. Abdullah — 48 to 27 percent — but the commission had pulled the president below 50 percent. That made a runoff necessary.

    Only the forceful intervention of Senator John Kerry, who was visiting in Kabul, averted a full-blown political crisis.

    But Mr. Abdullah concluded that without major changes to the election system, a second round would be as fraudulent as the first. His demands included the firing of the chief of the Independent Electoral Commission, which collected and counted the ballots, and the closing of hundreds of suspected “ghost” polling centers — fictional voting sites that were instrumental in allowing Mr. Karzai’s supporters to manufacture fake ballots. Mr. Karzai refused.

    Those close to Mr. Karzai said there was a simple explanation for Mr. Abdullah’s withdrawal. Muhammad Ismail Yoon, a university professor close to Mr. Karzai, said Mr. Abdullah knew that if he went through with a second round, the Afghans would desert him. “No one invests in a loser in Afghanistan,” he said.

    except us…..

  • BBC – The White House has repeatedly stressed the need for a “legitimate” partner in Afghanistan. What we don’t know is what happens if they don’t get one.

    What President Obama needs to make a decision on future strategy is clarity, what he’s got is a mess.

    This breaks down into two parts – perceptions and practicalities.

    Everybody in the administration from Obama downwards has put emphasis on the need for any government to be legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people. No doubt they do want that. But what they really mean is that it must be legitimate in the eyes of the American people, if they are going to be asked to make further commitments to the country. Today’s muddle hardly helps any eventual victor look more legitimate.

    That’s the perception. The practicality is even tougher. Those in the administration who argue against sending many more troops are not dong it because they have some super-effective alternative strategy. They just worry that the Afghan government isn’t up to it. “It” being the necessary components of a counter-insurgency strategy: fighting corruption, providing people with effective services and building up a strong and effective military.

    I feel the American worker has been sacrificed to the capitalist idols in the ancient Mayan fashion. – Sue Lamb, NYT reader

  • Don’t say it! I voted for “Hope” that Obama would change the world!

    Now it’s down to the “hope” that he can figure our what the heck he’s doing over there, and let me tell you, even that’s fading fast.

    So, any bets as to when Obie and Hillary will realize that the “Bush lite” policy is not going to cut it?

    We basically have no business over there, militarily speaking. Seriously, what’s the point? Where’s the plan? last time I checked, there was no Afghan invasion force preparing to march on the US. And they don’t have a navy or an air force. So WTF?

    I wonder, as 2012 approaches, how he is liking the sound of “Barack -Nam”? How about “Obama-stan”?

    FOX/Rush is gonna owe me big time for those memes 🙂 You heard ’em here first!

  • PressTV.Ir lays out their take on the case… The terseness makes this release from the Iran state news agency funny 🙂

    The Afghan minister of counter narcotics says foreign troops are earning money from drug production in Afghanistan.

    General Khodaidad Khodaidad said the majority of drugs are stockpiled in two provinces controlled by troops from the US, the UK, and Canada, IRNA reported on Saturday.

    He went on to say that NATO forces are taxing the production of opium in the regions under their control.

    Afghanistan is the world’s biggest supplier of opium.

    Drug production in the Central Asian country has increased dramatically since the US-led invasion eight years ago.

    A recent report by the United Nations states that Afghan opium is having a devastating impact on the world, killing thousands in consumer countries.

    Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Ahmad Wali Karzai, a brother of the Afghan president, is involved in the opium trade, meets with Taliban leaders, and is also a CIA operative.

    The opium trade is the major source of Taliban financing.



  • BBC, November 2

    Hamid Karzai has been declared the elected president of Afghanistan by poll officials, after they scrapped the planned second round of the vote.

    The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announcement comes a day after Mr Karzai’s sole challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the race.

    Dr Abdullah, who had demanded key poll officials quit, said he did not think it would be a free and fair vote.

    The first round of the vote, in August, was marred by mass electoral fraud.

    “We declare Hamid Karzai, which [sic] got the majority of votes in the first round and [since] he is the only candidate for the second round… be declared as elected president of Afghanistan,” said IEC spokesman Azizullah Ludin at Monday’s news conference in Kabul.

    He said the second round on 7 November was being scrapped to save money, for security reasons and to prevent further setbacks which could damage Afghanistan politically and economically.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

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