Karzai Wins Majority In Election.

President Hamid Karzai said he was grateful for the peoples votes on
winning the presidential elections in Afghanistan after more than 90
percent of the votes have been counted. The leading rival candidates have
accepted defeat, although a UN panel investigating charges of electoral
fraud still has to present its verdict.

‘’I am feeling very good,‘’ said Karzai speaking to the Daily Telegraph
from Kabul in his first comments after yesterday’s vote count gave him a
clear majority.

‘’What is good that I won without a real campaign or using any money or
the use of government machinery. It was a clear pure win and a vote of the
people and that is what makes me very happy,’’ he added.

Karzai has won 4.2 million out of the estimated 8 million votes cast in
the October 9 elections in which 16 candidates stood against him. Karzai
needed to win 50 percent of the votes cast to avoid a run off election
against his closest challenger. So far Karzai has won 55 percent of the
total votes counted.

Karzai’s main rival the Tajik leader Younus Qanooni who has an estimated
17 percent of the vote said last night that he accept Karzai’s victory,
but he would also wait for a UN panel of international experts to give
their verdict on allegations of fraud and cheating before conceding
defeat.

Karzai was confident that all the other candidates would accept his
victory. ‘’I think the other candidates have all accepted the results,’’
said Karzai.

The Hazara warlord Mohammed Mohaqeq who is in third place still has not
accepted defeat, but the Uzbek warlord General Rashid Dostum who is
running fourth has already accepted Karzai’s victory.

The UN has said it will not officially announce the results until the
panel’s report is completed – which is due on Wednesday or Thursday.

The vote counting was marred Friday by a suicide attack in a busy downtown
street, which killed an American woman from the US army reserve and a 12
year old Afghan girl. Three Icelandic soldiers belonging to the
international peace keeping force were wounded. The Taliban claimed
responsibility for the attack.

Karzai’s rivals have won heavily in their own ethnic areas but not nation
wide. Although Karzai has pulled the most votes from the majority Pashtun
belt in southern Afghanistan he is the only candidate to have drawn votes
from across the country and from all ethnic areas.

Karzai was nominated as President after the defeat of the Taliban in
December 2001.

Daily Telegraph, 26-10-2004
Ahmed Rashid in Lahore

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