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Afghan Presidential Contender Committed to Runoff Vote, if Clean

By VOA News
25 October 2009

The second-round challenger to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai says he is committed to the run-off election -- as long as the process is transparent and credible.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told a U.S. news program Sunday he would not talk about boycotting the November 7 vote because he does not want the election campaigns to lose momentum.

But he told another U.S. news program that he would not take the nation through the same saga as the first, flawed election in August.

Mr. Abdullah also rejected the possibility of a power-sharing agreement with Mr. Karzai.

Afghan election officials announced last week a run-off would be needed because of massive fraud in the initial August election, invalidating President Karzai's outright victory.

Mr. Karzai has endorsed the runoff.

Taliban insurgents are threatening to target Afghans who vote in the November election.

Taliban insurgents have grown stronger since U.S.-led forces first pushed the radical Islamic group from power in 2001. U.S. President Barack Obama is debating with top military and political officials how best to fight the insurgency.

Mr. Abdullah said Sunday more international troops are needed in Afghanistan to stop the situation from further deteriorating.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, Sunday, about 1,000 Afghans burned an effigy of President Obama. They were protesting allegations that Western troops burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

U.S. and Afghan authorities deny foreign troops burned a copy of the Koran earlier this month during an operation in Wardak province.

U.S. officials say the Taliban is spreading the false rumor to stir trouble.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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