KABUL : Election organisers today declared Hamid Karzai Afghan president for the second term, cancelling a one-man presidential run-off following a diplomatic push led by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
“We declare that Mr Hamid Karzai, who won the majority of votes in the first round, and is the only candidate in the second round, is the elected president of Afghanistan,” Independent Election Commission chairman Azizullah Ludin said.
Ludin said the decision had been made in line with the provisions of the Afghan electoral law and constitution and “consistent with the high interest of the Afghan people”.
The move came one day after the only challenger pulled out and after Ban met Karzai amid a diplomatic push to ensure the one-horse election did not take place and to bring a quick end to more than two months of chaos.
Karzai’s rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the contest on Sunday, declaring he would not participate for fear that widespread fraud which discredited the first round would be repeated.
Ban met both Karzai and Abdullah, as well as his staff, in a show of solidarity for those working in Afghanistan following a deadly Taliban suicide attack on a guesthouse for UN staff.
In a press conference, Ban did not say whether he wanted to see the election scrapped but said the United Nations would respect and support the decision of the Independent Elections Commission, the organisers of the ballot.
“The United Nations and the international community will stand together and walk together with the next government and the people of Afghanistan.” While
Ban refused to be drawn on whether he believed the run-off should be staged, a UN spokesman said it was “difficult to see” how Afghanistan could hold an election in
just five days’ time with only one candidate.
A senior European diplomat said there was great unease about staging such a contest. “We know that practically, going to the vote means a big expense and the possibility of a loss of life both of international and Afghan security forces,” he told AFP.