Runoff Canceled; Karzai Named Victor

Second term a done deal after opponent dropped out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 2, 2009 7:48 AM CST
An election poster of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is seen as supporters of challenger Abdullah Abdullah leave a gathering in which Abdullah announced his withdrawal from the runoff election.   (Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – Afghanistan's Karzai-appointed Independent Election Commission proclaimed President Hamid Karzai the victor of the war-ravaged nation's tumultuous ballot today, canceling a planned runoff two and a half months after a fraud-marred first round. The news came a day after his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out of the runoff, and hours after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kabul on a surprise visit, as international pressure mounted for a quick resolution to the country's electoral turmoil.

The cancellation of the weekend vote will be a huge relief to organizers, who were scrambling to hold the election before the onset of Afghanistan's harsh winter, which was likely to close roads in the north and prevent voters from casting ballots. A bigger fear was security: A Taliban spokesman had threatened violence against anyone who took part.