Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Afghanistan's Abdullah Says Karzai Re-election Lacks Legitimacy

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's main political rival says the president's re-election was illegal and will undermine his ability to combat corruption.

Former Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah gives a press conference at his residence in Kabul, 04 Nov 2009
Former Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah gives a press conference at his residence in Kabul, 04 Nov 2009
Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah withdrew days ago from a second-round runoff vote because of concerns over fraud. On Wednesday, he said the election commission that canceled the runoff vote and awarded Mr. Karzai another five-year term did not have the legal authority to do so.

Abdullah told reporters in Kabul that a government installed under such circumstances cannot be expected to fight corruption or deal with the many other challenges facing Afghanistan. He said he has no plans to form a coalition with Mr. Karzai and is urging his supporters to maintain peaceful opposition.

On Tuesday, Mr. Karzai addressed the nation after securing a second term, and pledged to "make every possible effort" to eradicate government corruption. However, he also appeared to reject removing high-level officials in any anti-corruption purge.

U.S. and European leaders Tuesday urged Mr. Karzai to focus on improving governance and security and fighting corruption.

Western officials and Mr. Karzai's political opponents fear the president could award important government posts to people involved in the massive ballot-rigging that U.N. monitors said gave the Afghan president more than one million fraudulent votes.

Election monitors spent two months throwing out fake ballots before declaring no outright winner in the August vote. A second, run-off election scheduled for later this week was canceled after Mr. Karzai's only opponent withdrew.

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