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Afghan Election Officials Declare Karzai Winner

By VOA News

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (file photo)
Afghanistan's Election Commission has declared President Hamid Karzai the winner of the country's disputed election after canceling a second round of voting.

The commission chief Azizullah Ludin said Monday President Karzai would keep his post because he was the winner of the first round of voting in August, and the only candidate in the second round which had been scheduled for November 7.

Mr. Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the race Sunday because of concerns about widespread fraud, which marred the August vote.

The election commissioner said officials also decided to cancel the run-off for security reasons and to save money.
The U.S. Embassy and the visiting United Nations chief welcomed the decision to cancel the run-off vote and congratulated President Karzai. 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kabul Monday for meetings with both Mr. Karzai and Abdullah.

Mr. Ban's visit follows last week's deadly attack on a guest house in Kabul that killed five foreign U.N. staff members. 

He vowed Monday that the U.N. would continue to offer humanitarian assistance and development support for Afghanistan.

Taliban militants took credit for the Kabul guest house attack, calling it a first step in a plan to disrupt the run-off election.

Afghan election officials previously had said the country's constitution required the run-off election to take place as scheduled, despite Abdullah's withdrawal.  However, a new policy was read at Monday's announcement canceling the vote.  

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

... Payvand News - 11/02/09 ... --

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