Tags: Afghan | election | fraud | vote

Afghan Election Commission Cancels Run-off

Monday, 02 November 2009 09:15 AM

KABUL - Afghanistan’s election commission cancelled the second round of a presidential poll today and declared President Karzai the winner after the last-minute withdrawal of his only rival.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the decision was made because of the cost and risk of organising the vote on Saturday, and because a one-horse race would raise doubts about the president's legitimacy.

"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," Azizullah Ludin, the Karzai-appointed IEC chief, told a packed news conference.

Asked if he was concerned that President Karzai did not have a legal mandate, he told reporters: “We are the commission and we have decided.”

There was no immediate response from Abdulla Abdullah, who withdrew yesterday in protest at Mr Karzai’s failure to meet his “minimum conditions” for a fair run-off, including the dismissal of Mr Ludin.

The United States and its allies here had been pushing for the cancellation of the run-off, fearing low turnout, further fraud and Taleban attacks, and for a power-sharing deal between the two men.

Few had expected the IEC to formally declare Mr Karzai the winner today as he won less then 50 per cent in the first round following the invalidation of more than a million of his votes because of fraud.

The international community had been encouraging Mr Karzai and the IEC to seek a ruling from the Supreme Court – without which Dr Abdullah and other opponents could still dispute Mr Karzai’s mandate.

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Monday, 02 November 2009 09:15 AM
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