Afghani President Karzai's main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, is stepping out of the election run-off, allowing Karzai to take the presidency, a move which may undermine government stability.
But Mr. Abdullah seemed to be keeping his options open until the last second, as he has done throughout the Afghan political crisis. Those close to him, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday, said he was still trying to decide whether to publicly denounce Mr. Karzai, whom he has accused of stealing the Aug. 20 election, or to step down without a fight.
American and other Western diplomatic officials said late Saturday that they were worried that a defiant statement by Mr. Abdullah could lead to violence and undermine the credibility of Mr. Karzai, and they were urging him to bow out gracefully. ...NYT
The election system has been clearly rigged by the Karzai government -- one of his supporters runs the Independent Election Commission -- and Abdullah refuses to be a part of any new government without a guarantee of cleaner elections.
It can't be emphasized enough that the Bush administration installed a capable but corrupt president with ties to war lords and drug production in Afghanistan. A lot of Americans are asking themselves if this is what we want to invest our lives and capital in: a corrupt and unstable regime. Not me.
NB: A corrupt and unstable Afghanistan will have as neighbors a corrupt and unstable (and nuclear) Pakistan on one side) and an increasingly unstable Iran, also possibly nuclear, on the other side, if today's news turns out to have legs.
Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi appeared to urge his supporters Saturday to take part in rallies on November 4 marking the 30th anniversary of the student seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
If they gather in the streets Wednesday, there may be clashes with police and government backers, as happened at annual demonstrations to support the Palestinians on September 18. ...NYT