Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the primary opposition candidate in Afghanistan’s August election, has announced that he has withdrawn from this week’s run-off vote against President Hamid Karzai, insisting that with much of the mechanism still in place that led to August’s debacle there was no way to hold a transparent election.
Despite the lack of any opposing candidates at this point the Karzai government insists the election will still be held, and that the Afghan people have a right to vote, apparently even if it is for just one candidate, and even if that candidate’s campaign was caught red-handed stealing over a million votes in the last election.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that the election will definitely be legitimate, even with only one candidate, insisting that Karzai had single-handedly bestowed legitimacy of the whole of Afghan democracy “from that moment forward” when he grudgingly allowed a second round of voting.
The Obama Administration had already decided over a month ago that Karzai would remain in power irrespective of the massive fraud committed on his behalf, and former US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is already spinning this as an effort by Dr. Abdullah to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the US-backed Karzai.
It seems unlikely that the disenfranchised Afghan voters will flock to dangerous polling sites to cast their ballot for a single candidate, making it increasingly likely turnout will be even worse than in August (when turnout inflated by over a million phantom votes still was dramatically lower than 2005).