Abdullah Abdullah, the chief rival to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is expected to announce he will drop out of the Nov. 7 runoff election on Sunday, effectively handing Karzai another five-year term, The New York Times reports. Abdullah's campaign manager, however, says Abdullah hopes to delay the runoff vote until the spring, though he might change his mind about dropping out before Sunday, reports the Associated Press. Hillary Clinton was quick to state that Abdullah's withdrawal would not affect the legitimacy of the Nov. 7 runoff. Abdullah is still trying to decide whether he will publicly denounce Karzai, who he has accused to stealing the Aug. 20 election, or step down quietly. American officials worry a denouncement could lead to violence and undermine Karzai’s credibility with Afghanis. The White House has been scrambling to end the election’s deadlock for weeks, as President Obama has signaled he will not make a troop-increase decision unless the country has a credible government. Talks between Karzai and Abdullah, who were said to be considering a power-sharing deal, broke down on Thursday. Abdullah wanted the election system overhauled to prevent fraud. A U.N.-backed panel threw out a million ballots after the first round of voting.
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