KABUL: Foreign envoys have stepped up a diplomatic offensive to break the deadlock in the disputed Afghan presidential election and avoid a divisive second round.Senior diplomats shuttled between Hamid Karzai and his rival Abdullah Abdullah encouraging them to strike a power-sharing deal to break a two-month-long political hiatus after an expected announcement of the final election result was postponed on Satuday.An inquiry into electoral fraud delayed its ruling on whether to disqualify thousands of allegedly rigged ballot boxes, but officials have said it is poised to cast out enough votes to deny Hamid Karzai outright first-round victory.Diplomats fear Mr Karzai could refuse to accept such a ruling or a second-round run-off against his former foreign minister, plunging the country into chaos. Mr Karzai has said the allegations of widespread fraud by his officials in the August 20 poll are exaggerated and he has complained that the inquiry into his votes is politically motivated.World leaders are now urging the two candidates to consider a possible power-sharing deal and the rivals have been engaged in intense bargaining, according to officials in Kabul.During the past few days Mr Karzai has spoken by phone to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.Dr Abdullah spoke to Mrs Clinton and was visited by Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee.Mr Kerry told CNN that President Barack Obama should not send more troops to Afghanistan until it worked through the results of the presidential election. ”It would be entirely irresponsible for the President of the United States to commit more troops to this country when we don’t even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we’re working with,” Senator Kerry said.Mohamed Mohin Murstal, an MP campaigning for Mr Karzai, said international pressure was directed towards creating a unity government. ”They want us to establish a strong government, a coalition government,” he said.”Mr Karzai has agreed that after the results are announced, he will give the opportunity for all political personalities to be involved in government – but not before.”Dr Abdullah has said he will not discuss a coalition before the results are announced, but has said the situation could change after that.Telegraph, London
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