Abdullah Abdullah was a candidate in the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election, amassing the second highest number of votes. He declined to participate in a runoff, officially claiming that he expected another corrupt election, but there are reports that Hamid Karzai had refused him enough Cabinet seats for what he considered a reasonable coalition. He fought against the soviets with Ahmad Shah Massoud, became spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense and Deputy of Minister of Foreign Affairs 1992-1996, then caretaker of the Foreign Ministry in the government in exile, 1999-2001. He served as Foreign Minister until 2006.
He was born in Kandahar Province, with a Pashtun father and a Tajik mother. He has a degree in medicine from Kabul University and is an ophthalmologist. He speaks Dari, Pashto, English, Arabic and French.
His party is the United Front, which is a renamed Northern Alliance, a group that was Tajik-dominated. While he is part Pashtun, he does not speak Pashto fluently, and the Northern Alliance background could cost Pashtun and Hazara votes.  Hamid Karzai, the incumbent, is Pashtun.
In a campaign appearance in Kandahar, heart of the Pashtun and the stronghold of the Taliban, he made a highly symbolic appearance at the Shrine of the Cloak of Prophet Mohammad. At the Shrine, Mullah Omar put on the cloak to claim leadership. Distinguishing himself from the Taliban, Abdullah did not touch it.  He said that "Without rigging, Karzai will lose the vote in southern Afghanistan...People are crossing ethnic, linguistic and regional lines." A first-round victory for anyone seems unlikely, although Karzai received 55% in 2004.
- Joshua Partlow (4 November 2009), "Abdullah camp negotiated for cabinet positions: Talks continued until hours before candidate withdrew, officials say", Washington Post
- Rachel Morarjee (14 August 2009), "Abdullah Abdullah: suave ex-chief diplomat", Financial Times
- Jeremy Page (15 August 2009), "Abdullah Abdullah throws down election gauntlet to President Karzai", The Times