WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Afghan candidate Abdullah Abdullah is leaning toward pulling out of the run-off election but may be using the threat as a negotiating ploy with President Hamid Karzai, said diplomatic sources on Saturday
“We have heard that talks with Karzai have broken down and he (Abdullah) is leaning toward not taking part in the election but this could also be a negotiating ploy,” said one Western diplomatic source. “It is not a done deal,” added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the issue is sensitive.
Another diplomatic source said it was very likely that Abdullah would not take part in the November 7 run-off but cautioned that this could change before the presidential candidate’s news conference set for Sunday.
Diplomats said there were questions over whether Abdullah would use his news conference as a concession speech to incumbent Karzai or declare a boycott of the run-off, which was ordered after the fraud-ridden first round in August.
Western officials are also studying the legal and political ramifications of there being only one candidate in the run-off.
Reporting by Sue Pleming, editing by Alan Elsner