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Afghanistan - election results awaited

Kouchner visits Kabul as votes row drags on

Article published on the 2009-10-17 Latest update 2009-10-17 15:26 TU

Bernard Kouchner(Photo: Claude Verlon/RFI)

Bernard Kouchner
(Photo: Claude Verlon/RFI)

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Kabul on Saturday, as Afghan officials again postpone an announcement of final results of the country's presidential election, two months after the controversial first round.

Kouchner's visit comes "in the context of tension provoked by the long wait in the announcement of the election results," a French statement said.

"It's up to everyone to respect them, and to work for the smooth running either of the elected candidate's swearing in if an absolute majority is achieved, or for the preparation of a run-off if there is no such majority."

An announcement of definitive results, which would have decided whether there would be a second round, was expected Saturday but is reported to have been postponed again for several days.

The Elections Complaints Commission, which includes foreign representatives, has been investigating widespread allegations of fraud. But officials say that it is at loggerheads with the Independent Election Commission, leading to delay which may allow the two sides to negotiate further.

Kouchner's visit follows a week of intensive foreign pressure to resolve the crisis.

Incumbent President Hamid Karzai has spoken by telephone to US Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Clinton told US television this week that Karzai is likely to emerge the winner, even if there is a run-off. But supporters of his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, are now threatening demonstrations in the north of the country if there is no second round.

The US and its allies are anxious that, if a second round has to take place, it should be held quickly. Unless it takes place within weeks,  the onset of winter would force postponement to spring next year, leaving the country in a politically tense limbo for several months.

In continuing clashes with the Taliban, 25 rebels were killed in Nato and Afghan military assaults in the south of the country since Friday, officials say.


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