Afghan Prez Squeezes Out Opponents

Unpopular Karzai has horse-traded his way to likely reelection
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 25, 2009 9:06 AM CDT
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, right, shakes hands Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday June...   (AP Photo/Ahmad Massoud)
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(Newser) – Afghanistan’s president isn’t popular with his people—in a recent poll, just 31% said they would vote for him—but he’ll probably win an August election anyway, Dexter Filkins reports in the New York Times. Hamid Karzai, in power for 8 years, is blamed for widespread corruption and mismanagement, allowing the resurgence of the Taliban and the poppy trade. But he has managed to marginalize his opponents, and his victory may well undermine the US effort to turn the war around.

Karzai’s post seemed threatened months ago, but as president, he has better campaigning resources than opponents, and he’s made deals with “unsavory characters,” including militia leaders known for ruthlessness, trading appointments and promises for support. While the Obama administration has attempted to distance itself from Karzai, criticizing him publicly for his government's failings, many Afghans believe the US backs his reelection.