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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Afghan President Shuns TV debate

Saturday, July 25, 2009

With the presidential elections less than a month away, Abdullah and Ghani debated while an empty podium where Karzai should have stood. The first televised debate ahead of Afghanistan's presidential poll has been held - without Hamid Karzai, the country's president.

Karzai, widely seen as the front runner in the August 20 election, pulled out less than 24 hours before the debate took place on the country's most popular television network on Thursday.

An empty podium marked his absence while his policies were criticised by two of his biggest challengers, Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister.

The Karzai team said he had not been given enough notice for the debate on private TV channel Tolo, which they accused of being "59 per cent against Hamid Karzai".

Karzai's campaign also said the president did not want to take part because all the country's 41 presidential candidates were not invited.

Ghani, also a former senior World Bank official, has repeatedly asked Karzai to debate with him.

"It is the Afghan public that will suffer another broken promise ... if the future plans of each candidate is not made clear standing side-by-side his or her rival," Ghani said on his website earlier this week.
posted by Travis, 12:19 pm


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