Afghan Election Chaos as Karzai Challenger Quits; Brown Says Abdullah Pulled out in Interests of National Unity
PRIME Minister Gordon Brown said last night that Afghan president Hamid Karzai planned to issue a "unity manifesto" as the country's electoral process descended into chaos.
Former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the November 7 presidential run-off after his demands for changes in the electoral commission were not met, leaving Mr Karzai as the only candidate.
Mr Brown said Dr Abdullah had withdrawn from the contest "in the interests of national unity" but it was unclear whether the second round of voting would still go ahead.
reporters at Number 10, Mr Brown said tackling corruption would have to be a key priority for the new Afghan administration.
The electoral run-off was ordered in response to widespread allegations of vote-rigging in the first poll, which was won by President Karzai.
Mr Brown said: "Our first priority is the safety and security of our troops.We need the infant Afghan democracy to be stable and inclusive. Dr Abdullah pulled out of the election in the interests of national unity.
"I have talked to President Karzai today. He wants to issue a manifesto which is a unity manifesto, an inclusive manifesto for the Afghan people." The decision on whether Mr Karzai is returned to power was one for Afghanistan's independent electoral commission, he said. "The issue for me is what is to happen to Afghanistan in the future, given that our soldiers have contributed so much to the development of Afghan society," he said.
"What is going to happen is we have got to have a visible sign that the new administration is tackling corruption, we have got to know that they are going to build up the local elements of popular rule.We have got to know that they are going to bring greater prosperity to the Afghan people and they have got to have an army and police that is capable of keeping order in Afghanistan so that our troops and other troops can, over time, come home. …