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Karzai declared elected president


President Karzai & Ban Ki-moon

President Karzai & Ban Ki-moon

Hamid Karzai has been declared the elected president of Afghanistan by poll officials, after they scrapped the planned second round of the vote. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announcement comes a day after Mr Karzai’s sole challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the race.

Dr Abdullah, who had demanded key poll officials quit, said he did not think it would be a free and fair vote. The first round of the vote, in August, was marred by mass electoral fraud. “We declare Hamid Karzai, which [sic] got the majority of votes in the first round and [since] he is the only candidate for the second round… be declared as elected president of Afghanistan,” said IEC spokesman Azizullah Lodin at Monday’s news conference in Kabul.

He said the second round on 7 November was being scrapped to save money, for security reasons and to prevent further setbacks which could damage Afghanistan politically and economically. The Taliban, which carried out attacks across the country during the first round, had vowed to disrupt the polls again next Saturday.

President Karzai had been the favourite to win the run-off after gaining more votes in the first round on 20 August. One of the reasons for holding a deciding vote had been to try to restore some legitimacy to the process after the discredited first round.

A number of international figures, including US Senator John Kerry, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, had been involved in persuading Mr Karzai to accept a run-off. But Dr Abdullah had demanded key officials be removed from the IEC, which is widely regarded as pro-Karzai. Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Kabul and said Afghanistan’s troubled election had been among “the most difficult the United Nations has ever supported”.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Kabul says there has been intense discussion in recent days as to whether scrapping the second round would be constitutionally legal. Some observers are saying Mr Karzai’s legitimacy is also in question, and ask whether his government can be effective, adds our correspondent.

This would be a particular concern, they add, to US President Barack Obama as he mulls whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of votes were discounted from August’s vote, including almost a third of ballots cast for Mr Karzai.

The incumbent’s share of the vote was cut to just under the crucial 50% plus one ballot threshold needed for outright victory, following an investigation by the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission. Dr Abdullah – a Tajik-Pashtun former eye surgeon and ex-foreign minister – was adjudged in the end to have won nearly a third of valid votes cast.

Source: BBC


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