Following the announcement that opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah has formally withdrawn from the November 7 runoff vote, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a US-funded radio station that he hopes the election still takes place.
And it seems he will get his wish, as the Independent Election Commission’s spokesman says the intention right now is to hold the election as planned, but with only a single candidate on the ballot.
Though the US has already endorsed the single candidate runoff vote as inherently legitimate, the international community will likely not relish having to shell out many millions of dollars to hold a sham election and turnout is almost certain to plummet, raising further questions of Karzai’s legitimacy.
This means it remains possible that in the face of growing pressure the election won’t be held after all. It may require an act of the Afghan Supreme Court to avert it, but there appears to be much to lose and little to gain.
Exactly where this leaves Abdullah remains to be seen, but the former Foreign Minister hinted very openly that he was interested in some kind of power sharing agreement, something that he had previously ruled out. On the other hand he may be a legitimate opposition leader, particularly after the disastrous August vote.
So after netting over a million fraudulent votes in the first round and grudgingly agreeing to a runoff under intense international pressure, Karzai appears to finally have the victory he has sought, even if it is likely to be far from the king-making win he hoped.