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Abdullah Calls for Legitimacy in Afghan Government

November 4, 2009 at 6:27 PM EDT

JIM LEHRER: And to Margaret Warner’s interview with Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan presidential candidate who dropped out on Sunday. The interview was done before word reached Kabul of the attack on the British soldiers.

MARGARET WARNER: Dr. Abdullah, thank you so much for doing this.

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: You’re welcome.

MARGARET WARNER: You said today the process is completed with a final illegal act.

So, you are accepting that Hamid Karzai is the next president of Afghanistan?

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I accepted that the process has completed itself. And — but, at the same time, I stressed that that was illegal.

MARGARET WARNER: What kind of pressure were you under from some of your supporters to do something different today?

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: A lot of pressure. People are very agitated. They witnessed what happened during the campaign, what happened during the elections. And, finally, an institution, which was — which its credibility was under serious, serious questions in the eyes of the people, decides to appoint a president.

MARGARET WARNER: So, your supporters wanted what?

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Our parliamentarians, those who have supported me, representatives of campaign, the people at large, they are very agitated. They are calling for actions, for protests, and so on and so forth, which I have called for restraint. I have called for responsible attitude. And I have promised them that I will continue.

MARGARET WARNER: Why wouldn’t it be “responsible” — quote, unquote — for you to challenge this in, say, the supreme court?

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Had there been independent judiciary, I would have done so.

And I will fight for those principles: separation of power between three pillars of state, independent judiciary, independent constitutional commission.