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Afghans divided amid political limbo

By Sara Sidner in Kabul, Afghanistan, CNN
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Abdullah quits, Afghans react
  • President Karzai's challenger in the run-off election withdraws from Presidential race
  • Abdullah Abdullah says not enough done to clean up the fraud that overturned election
  • Afghanistan now tasked with problem of determine who is to be president
  • Afghans disagree as to who would have been the better candidate

Abdul Sabur jams a carrot into the machine that makes the frothy sweet juice his customers are waiting for on the crowded streets along the Kabul River. He is tired. He makes little and works 16 hours a day and it's almost time to go home. But ask him about the political situation in Afghanistan and he suddenly perks up.

"How long has Karzai been in power nine, ten years? But he hasn't done anything for the people. Karzai has brought nothing but killing destruction and explosions in Afghanistan."

He had heard the big news of the day: President Hamid Karzai's only challenger in the run-off election, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the Presidential race saying not enough had been done to clean up the fraud that overturned the August 20th election.

It was determined by the Electoral complaints commission that nearly one in four votes were fraudulent in that contest. Abdullah said he didn't think it would be much better this time around so withdrew. First announcing it through the media to the Afghan people in his native language, and then to the world in English.

Video: Abdullah speaks
Video: Abdullah backs out of runoff

Sabur was upset about the news and wanted Dr. Abdullah to run the country.

A block away, another potential voter was absolutely thrilled Mr. Karzai was a shoe in.

"Abdullah tried all these tricks, he resigned and this and that to come into power," the onion trader said.

"He knew he would lose so he thought it's better to say no right now. We have no problem with Karzai."

But the country, mired in a deadly war that keeps getting worse, now has one more problem added to a long list: How will it determine who is to be the president? With only one presidential candidate now and a constitutional law that demands a "run-off" (since no one candidate got the 50 percent plus one votes needed to win) what should happen when one of the two contenders drops out of the race?

Do you follow the un-tested law and continue with the run-off with one presidential candidate on the ballot making it plainly obvious who the winner will be long before even one vote is cast or look for other options.

It is not so easy to decide in a country where voters and poll workers have to face attacks by the Taliban who have again threatened anyone who takes part in the electoral process -- never mind the cost of the election, which is said to be somewhere around $20 million.

The United Nations sent a statement about the situation saying in part: "The next step must be to bring this electoral process to a conclusion in a legal and timely manner."

The President of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, Azizullah Lodin, told CNN everyone is allowed an opinion but as for who decides what happens in Afghanistan: "We are independent. We hear the idea from different parts but we are doing what is best on law and we find it what is correct and right."

The only people who didn't want to talk to the media about this today were the women we approached in a Kabul market. Every one of them, some completely covered by their burqa, would run away, afraid to appear on camera.

Among the men, while there was disagreement in the streets as to who would have been the better candidate, everyone agreed on one thing spoken plainly and passionately by the man you'll find behind the juice counter from 5am until 9pm on the streets of Kabul: Abdul Sabur.

"We want a president that thinks first and foremost of the needs of the people."