KABUL (PAN): Accusing Afghan election commission of being biased in favour of incumbent president Hamid Karzai, presidential election challenger Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday announced he is not participating in the runoff set for November 7.

Speaking at a rally of his supporters underway at the Loya Jirga tent, Dr. Abdullah alleged the commission perpetrated widespread fraud during the first round held on August 20.

Abdullah's announcement came five days after his deadline for accepting his demands was expired. He had listed a number of demands, including the removal of the chief election official, Azizullah Ludin, and the suspension of some ministers suspected of involvement in ballot-stuffing.

Dr. Abdullah said Sunday his demands for changes in the election commission to ensure a fair vote weren't met.

However, he would not call on his supporters to boycott the runoff vote.

Abdullah also said the Afghan people should not accept results of an election from the current election commission. He told his supporters President Hamid Karzai's government had not been legitimate since its mandate expired last May.

Abdullah announcement came as US Secretary of State said a boycott of the Afghan runoff election by Abdullah wont de-legitimise the poll.

Answering the question on whether the outcome of a runoff with only one candidate would result in a legitimate government, Hillary Clinton said such situations are not unprecedented and occur in many countries..

"We see that happen in our own country where, for whatever combination of reasons, one of the candidates decides not to go forward. I don't think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election," she told the Daily Telegraph.

Abdullah and others have charged that massive fraud occurred in the first round of voting on August 20. The initial results gave Karzai the win, but a subsequent review by a U.N.-backed panel of election monitors threw out nearly one-third of Karzai's votes because of "clear and convincing evidence of fraud."

The Afghan constitution says that any vote cast for a candidate who withdraws will not be counted.



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