Afghan president’s sole rival withdraws from race

Former Afghan Foreign Minister and presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has withdrawn himself from the November 7 election runoff. The state election commission says the second round will still be held, however.

The move makes the incumbent president Hamid Karzai the only candidate.

Vakif Hakimi from Abdullah's campaign office says the former candidate has decided not to turn the second round of the election into a farce.

"Afghan election laws don't allow one of candidates to pull out of the run-off. They don't expect the second round of polls to settle the vote, because as a result of fraud during the first round everything has been mixed up . And Abdullah Abdullah refused to take part in a process he called a farce," he said.

In August, Abdullah came second in the election behind Karzai. The UN, however, said that one third of Karzai’s votes were fake, throwing out around a million votes.

The situation in Afghanistan is completely deadlocked, says Yury Krupnov, expert on Afghanistan.

"We aren't seeing the crisis of elections or the crisis of Karzai's legitimacy, but the crisis of western policy towards the country. The US-led coalition, unfortunately, needs a weak Afghanistan," Krupnov says. "During the 8 years of their operations in the region the aim to create an independent state wasn’t set. They are just using Afghanistan as a foothold to tackle their own problems in the area. And this election mess is a direct consequence of that policy."

Local journalist Lizette Potgieter who's in the Afghani capital says Abdullah has two reasosns for withdrowing from election runoff.

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