Monday, November 2, 2009

Karzai declared winner of Afghan election

Updated on : Monday, November 02, 2009

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai was declared winner of the country's second election Monday by the country's electoral commission after it decided to scrap a planned run-off ballot.

"We declare that Mr Hamid Karzai, who won the majority of votes in the first round, and is the only candidate in the second round, is the elected president of Afghanistan," Independent Election Commission chairman Azizullah Ludin said.

The move comes one day after Karzai's only challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, announced that he would not participate in the November 7 poll for fear of a repeat of widespread fraud which marred the first round in August.

Ludin said the move had been made in line with the provisions of the Afghan electoral law and constitution and "consistent with the high interest of the Afghan people".

The IEC chief said that the commission was also taking its decision in order to save money, citing "the huge expense that the election requires" and for security reasons.

The decision will "prevent uncertainty which creates a lot of challenges to stability and security in the country," he said.

Although it had initially said that the ballot would take place next Saturday, arguing that Abdullah had missed the deadline for withdrawal, the IEC had been under heavy international pressure to scrap the contest.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon flew into Kabul on Monday to hold talks with both Karzai and Abdullah.

Shortly before the IEC's announcement, Ban told a press conference that the UN would support and respect any decision from the commission.

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