Karzai Accepts UN Recount, Runoff Looms

Runoff election looms as prez bows to pressure
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2009 4:41 AM CDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – Hamid Karzai will bow to international pressure and accept the results of a UN-backed recount of Afghanistan's presidential election, US and European officials tell the New York Times. The incumbent will publicly acknowledge he fell short of 50% of the first-round vote as early as today, setting the stage for a runoff ballot against Abdullah Abdullah. Under Afghanistan's constitution a runoff must be held within two weeks, but logistical difficulties and the onset of winter may keep the country's political future uncertain for months.

World leaders yesterday stepped up efforts to secure Karzai's cooperation. Sen. John Kerry flew into Kabul, while at the UN, Ban Ki-moon said Karzai "would no longer be a partner of the west" if he refused to back down. Officials from both Washington and NATO say they won't send more troops until the political crisis is resolved. Some in the Obama administration are speculating that a Karzai-Abdullah unity government may be favorable to a second ballot.