Karzai Named Winner As Afghan Runoff Fizzles

November 03, 2009|By Tribune Newspapers

KABUL, Afghanistan - - Electoral officials Monday canceled Saturday's planned Afghan presidential runoff and declared incumbent Hamid Karzai the victor.

The decision, announced by the government-appointed Independent Electoral Commission, ended more than two months of uncertainty stemming from an election that was marred by fraud.

The U.S. and the United Nations quickly lined up in support of Karzai, who is to serve another five-year term.

"We congratulate President Karzai on his victory in this historic election and look forward to working with him," the U.S. Embassy said in statement. It added that, "The IEC has taken this decision according to its mandate under Afghan law."

But aides to Karzai's challenger said the election panel did not have the authority to declare a winner, raising the possibility of a legal challenge.

"President Karzai is not really the winner," said Fazel Sancharaki, spokesman for the campaign of former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. "The commission made him the winner."

Abdullah bowed out of the presidential runoff Sunday, saying Karzai and the commission had refused to make changes to the country's election infrastructure to prevent the sort of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities that took place in the first round of voting in August.

Abdullah's decision effectively handed Karzai another five-year term.

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