Karzai declared Afghan president
Kabul, November 2, 2009
Afghanistan's election commission declared Hamid Karzai elected as president on Monday after it called off a runoff following the withdrawal of his only rival.
The run-off, called after the first round in August was marred by widespread fraud, was to have been held on November 7.
"The Independent Election Commission declares the esteemed Hamid Karzai as the president ... because he was the winner of the first round and the only candidate in the second round," the commission's chief Azizullah Ludin told a news conference.
Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the race over the weekend, citing doubts about the credibility of the election process.
"There is no second round," the IEC's chief electoral officer Daoud Ali Najafi told Reuters. Earlier UN chief Ban Ki-moon made an announced visit to Kabul as diplomatic efforts gathered pace to resolve the prolonged political crisis.
"We continue to stand by the people of Afghanistan in their quest for prosperity and peace," Ban said.
The withdrawal of Abdullah from the run-off had cast doubts over the legitimacy of the next government, already under a cloud following the August 20 election marred by allegations of fraud in favour of Karzai.
A weakened Afghan government under Karzai would be a blow for US President Barack Obama as he considers whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to fight a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
A spokesman for Karzai's campaign said the president will issue a statement about the announcement of the election commission later in the day.
Karzai's camp on Sunday ruled out a coalition with Abdullah, dashing hopes the two leaders could together find a way out of the impasse.
Abdullah left the door open for future discussions but said no deals had been struck in return for his withdrawal, seen by diplomats as one way to spare the country more uncertainty that discredits the government and can only aid the insurgency. - Reuters
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