Saturday 01 May 2010 | Afghanistan feed

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Abdullah Abdullah under pressure to concede to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai's main rival has come under international pressure to accept defeat in the presidential elections, his main backer has said.

 
Abdullah Abdullah under pressure to concede to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan
Abdullah Abdullah has previously appealed for his supporters to remain calm, patient and responsible. Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Ustad Atta Mohammed Noor, governor of Balkh province, said the international community feared a defeat for Mr Karzai would worsen violence in the Taliban heartlands.

He said he and Abdullah Abdullah's campaign were being urged to making a deal with the president.

He said: "They have come to the conclusion that if Mr Karzai doesn't win, insecurity will increase in the south.

"Because of the insecurity situation, they are insisting we should go and work with the government. It's very difficult for us. They are saying we should not accept the will of the people."

Mr Noor said he had met with Richard Holbrooke, US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, on Sunday and been left with the "impression" he wanted the Abdullah campaign to accept defeat.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy confirmed the meeting had taken place but said she did not know what had been discussed.

A strong, credible result in Afghanistan's second presidential elections is a key plank in western efforts to stabilise the country.

The United Nations and Barack Obama moved quickly to praise the poll on Thursday despite signs Taliban intimidation had scared off many voters.

The European Union election observer mission declared the process generally "good and fair", though Afghan observers catalogued instances of multiple voting, intimidation and underage voting.

Mr Noor was one of two governors to openly campaign for Dr Abdullah, the former foreign minister who emerged as Mr Karzai's closest rival.

Balkh had been seen as a stronghold for Dr Abdullah which could slide into unrest if his supporters felt the election had been stolen.

Both sides told the Daily Telegraph that they had won the prosperous province and their opponents were guilty of fraud.

Official preliminary results are not due until Tuesday and final results will follow in several weeks although early indications suggested Mr Karzai had won 72 per cent of the vote.

Mohammad Sabir Dawlatzai, deputy campaign manager for Mr Karzai said his polling station observers reported the president had gained 117,446 votes against 113,197 in Balkh.

Mr Noor said his own observers found Dr Abdullah won 163,000 against 96,000.

Dr Abdullah's campaign has lodged more than 100 official complaints nationwide of irregularity and vote rigging.

Mr Noor added: "The government is corrupt, the opium is rife also, but unfortunately fraud and the view of the international community suggest otherwise."

Many western observers believe the nationalistic Pashtun tribal south, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, would reject the election of a non-Pashtun leader and slide further into chaos.

Mr Karzai hails from a distinguished Kandahar Pashtun family, while Dr Abdullah is half Tajik and has strong links with the Tajik and Uzbek Northern Alliance.

Balkh contains the prosperous central Asian trading hub of Mazar-i-Sharif and a mix of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and some Pashtuns.

While Mr Noor supported Mr Karzai, the president was backed by a coalition of ethnic strongmen, including the Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum and the Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqiq.

Mr Noor denied his supporters would react violently if Mr Karzai won.

He said: "If there's big fraud, we will negotiate with our own people.

We will not commit violence. We are not going to kill any one or disturb anyone."

 
 
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