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Karzai declared Afghan president

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission has declared Hamid Karzai as the country’s president after the cancellation of a presidential run-off.

The IEC announced in a Monday press conference that there will be no presidential run-off after the withdrawal of Abdullah Abdullah, the only challenger to the incumbent Karzai.

“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,” IEC chairman Azizullah Ludin said.

On Sunday, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah dropped out of the November vote, citing fears of widespread fraud, which discredited the first round.

Abdullah had called for the dismissal of Ludin, accusing him of rigging the vote in favor of Karzai.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Kabul on Monday for talks with both Karzai and Abdullah.

After the IEC announcement, Ban welcomed the decision and congratulated Karzai on being granted a second term in office.

Ludin said the cancelation of the run-off had been made in line with the Afghan electoral law and constitution and ‘consistent with the high interest of the Afghan people’.

The IEC chief said that the commission was also taking its decision in order to save money, citing ‘the huge expense that the election requires’ and for security reasons.

The decision will ‘prevent uncertainty which creates a lot of challenges to stability and security in the country’, he said.

Abdullah had called for the suspension of four ministers who have campaigned for Karzai and urged the closure of many polling stations, which his supporters cannot monitor for security reasons.

A senior advisor to Abdullah said the ‘minimum conditions’ for holding a fair and free contest were rejected by the government.

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