Messy Afghan Election Gives White House New Headache

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2009 5:33 AM CDT
An Afghan man displays a shirt showing President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009.    (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
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(Newser) – White House hopes that the Afghan election would show the country's progress toward stability have been dashed, as the voting instead highlighted the challenges Afghanistan faces, the New York Times reports. With a runoff between President Karzai and challenger Adbullah Abdullah on the horizon, observers complain of fraud, ballot stuffing and turnout so low that Taliban intimidation effectively disenfranchised some regions.

With a runoff election comes the threat that the barely functional Afghan government will succumb to greater paralysis, and ethnic tensions will deepen into outright civil war. The Obama administration, frustrated with Karzai's failure to crack down on corruption and drug trafficking, views a runoff as a months-long delay before progress can be made on any of the White House's Afghanistan policy initiatives.