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US not happy with Karzai and lets him know it

Article published on the 2009-08-28 Latest update 2009-08-28 13:12 TU

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, 20 August 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, 20 August 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

The United States has grown increasingly impatient with Afghan President Hamid Karzai a process exacerbated in the aftermath of the contested elections of 20 August. US Special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke let this be known in a recent meeting with Karzai, which has been widely described as “tense” and filled with “sharp exchanges”.

The United States and other international observers initially hailed the presidential election as a success, but widespread fraud allegations – currently under investigation – and a low turnout of only 30-35 per cent, have led many to question the election’s credibility.

To make matters worse, Karzai’s election office ruffled feathers when it declared victory only hours after the polls closed and well before any results were yet official. US diplomats say that this undermined the legitimacy of both Karzai the candidate and the elections overall.

Holbrooke met with Karzai the day after the election and pressed him on the issue of vote-rigging.

While the meeting has been characterised as testy, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the US embassy in Kabul, said: "There was no shouting and no one stormed out."

Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s main rival, has alleged massive fraud and ballot stuffing, and has presented the media with video and other evidence to back up his claims.

He has made formal complaints to the small and stretched Election Complaints Commission, which received 790 allegations of fraud on election day alone. One in ten of these allegations merit an investigation, it reports.

Karzai was the US’s handpicked president who was put in power after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Since then, he has fallen further and further out of favour due to what is seen as shifty alliance making and close connections with the warlords.

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