Afghan election commission declares Karzai winner

Afghan challenger drops

November 2, 2009 08:31
1 minute read.
karzai wins presidency nov2 09

karzai wins presidency nov2 09. (photo credit: )

Afghanistan's election commission proclaimed President Hamid Karzai the victor of the war-ravaged nation's tumultuous ballot on Monday, canceling a planned runoff two and a half months after a fraud-marred first round. Karzai's challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out of the race Sunday because he said the vote would not be free or fair. Independent Election Commission chairman Azizullah Lodin announced Karzai the victor during a news conference in Kabul. The chief electoral officer on the Karzai-appointed Independent Election Commission, Daoud Ali Najafi, confirmed the weekend runoff had been canceled but he gave no details. Another senior official on the commission also confirmed the second round had been called off. The news came hours after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kabul on a surprise visit, as international pressure mounted for a quick resolution to the country's electoral turmoil. Kazai and Abdullah had been in talks about the possibility of a power-sharing deal. The cancellation of the weekend vote will be a huge relief to organizers, who were scrambling to hold the election before the onset of Afghanistan's harsh winter, which was likely to close roads in the north and prevent voters from casting ballots. A bigger fear was security: A Taliban spokesman had threatened violence against anyone who took part. Last week, insurgents in suicide vests stormed a guest house in the heart of Kabul filled with UN election workers, killing five UN staffers and three Afghans. The attack raised questions about whether the UN might scale back its operations in the war-ravaged country. But Ban promised Monday that the world body's work would continue in Afghanistan despite the slayings. He also said Karzai had assured him Afghan security forces would work to protect UN staff. Ban told reporters that "we cannot be deterred, we must not be deterred. ... The work of the United Nations will continue." On Monday, the world body announced it would suspend long-term development work in areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border because of violence.

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