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Abdullah withdraws from Afghan election

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 01 November 2009

Abdullah Abdullah has pulled out of the Afghanistan presidential run-off because his demands for changes in the election commission have not been met.

Abdullah Abdullah (picture: Reuters)

As the second most popular choice when the original ballot was held in June, Abdullah was scheduled to face incumbent president Hamid Karzai in a second vote because no candidate had reached the 50 per cent threshold required to be declared outright winner.

Karzai was originally declared the victor, but thousands of his votes were later found to be fraudulent and discounted.

After days of speculation that Abdullah could boycott the run-off, he confirmed he will not take part because he does not believe the vote will be transparent.

Gordon Brown said he hopes Abdullah's boycott will lead to changes in Afghanistan's political system.

He said: "This decision was clearly carefully considered, and I welcome Dr Abdullah's readiness to play a continued role in the national dialogue.

"I am confident that Afghanistan's leaders will support the remaining steps of the democratic process.

"Along with the whole international community, including our over forty international partners in Afghanistan, we hope to see an Afghan government emerge that responds to the will of the people, that reaches out to all parts of Afghan society, and that is ready to take strong action to meet the challenges that Afghanistan faces.

"We are ready to work in close partnership with such a government."

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