With less than a month left for the August 20 Afghan presidential election, the war-ravaged country’s former foreign minister and Tajik leader, Abdullah Abdullah, has emerged as a serious challenger to President Hamid Karzai, who belongs to the majority Pashtun community.
While Karzai continues to be the front-runner, Abdullah is one of the 41 candidates who can drag the incumbent into a run-off, a contest between the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first balloting, The New York Times reported from Herat in Afghanistan.
An ophthalmologist, 48-year-old Abdullah has the backing of the National Front and is well known for his resistance to the Soviet invasion and the Taliban.
“I have no doubt that people want change,” Abdullah told the paper. “Today they are hopeful that change can come.”
Abdullah, who once served in the Karzai Government as the country’s foreign minister, is now one of the vocal critics of the President ever since he left his Cabinet in 2006.
The August 20 poll is the second Afghan national presidential election.