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Abdullah slams Karzai

KABUL, Nov 4 – Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who quit Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election race this week, charged Wednesday that his rival Hamid Karzai’s re-election had "no legal basis".

Abdullah, who pulled out of a run-off poll scheduled after more than a million votes cast in the August 20 election were deemed fraudulent, said Karzai lacked legitimacy after being re-appointed by electoral commissioners.

"This decision does not have a legal basis," he told reporters in his first public appearance since Karzai was declared president for another five years.

Abdullah took a swipe at his rival’s pledge to eradicate corruption and build national unity following US pressure to clean up widespread graft.

"Such a government which lacks legitimacy cannot fight corruption," he said.

"A government which comes to power without the people’s support cannot fight phenomena of terrorism threats, unemployment, poverty and hundreds of other problems."

Karzai was handed a second term after the Independent Election Commission (IEC), whose chief he appointed, cancelled a run-off ballot following Abdullah’s withdrawal on Sunday.

Under pressure from US President Barack Obama to wipe out corruption after a turbulent election process, Karzai used his first appearance since being declared president to pledge a cleaner rule. Related article: UN warns Karzai

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But Abdullah, who ran a vigorous election campaign for change and alleged massive state-engineered fraud during the poll, said the IEC made the decision outside the legal parameters of its mission.

"I think any government that is formed on that basis and then claims to believe in rule of law for this country and promote the interests of the people of Afghanistan, provide services, bring security to the country, bring peace to the country… will not be able to deliver," he said.

Abdullah reiterated accusations against the IEC of "incompetence and bias," adding: "This is the very same commission which has announced the appointment of the president."

"This decision does not have any legal basis and a government which takes power based on such a commission’s decision cannot have legitimacy," he said.

Karzai has been urged by a number of world leaders to ensure his next government can command the support of all Afghans, as Obama mulls whether to pour in tens of thousands more US troops to battle the Taliban.

The 51-year-old president, whose warm relations with the West have cooled due to corruption and spiralling insecurity, extended an olive branch to Taliban insurgents, who immediately snubbed the offer.

Their insurgency is at its deadliest, contributing to record US fatalities eight years since the militia was driven out of Kabul by a US-led invasion that paved the way for Karzai to take power.

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