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Afghanistan/France - election stalemate

Massive fraud in Afghan poll, says Kouchner on Kabul trip

Article published on the 2009-10-18 Latest update 2009-10-19 07:05 TU

Kouchner during a news conference at the French embassy in Kabul(Photo: Reuters)

Kouchner during a news conference at the French embassy in Kabul
(Photo: Reuters)

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Afghan leaders that the world "would really like to know what is happening", as the country awaits final results from the August presidential election. With the official election commission still hesitating to declare a winner, Kouchner declared, "Apparently the fraud was massive."

"I am concerned because it seems that no-one is ready to accept the results," Kouchner said after meeting incumbent Hamid Karzai.

But he said that Karzai's relations with his principal rival, Abdullah Abdullah, are "not too bad" and that there is "a real will to work together", confirming that the two men are discussing the possibility of forming a unity government.

Kouchner outlined other alternatives to break the deadlock:

  • A second round before the onset of winter;
  • Abdullah standing down before a second round;
  • The Supreme Court ruling that Karzai has won;
  • An interim government until a second round in the spring.

But "behind-the-scenes manoeuvring is at an apogee," reports RFI's French service correspondent Nicolas Bertrand from Kabul.

According to his sources, the Independent Electoral Commission, which is dominated by Karzai nominees, has rejected the report of the Election Complaints Commission, which has foreign members, because it gave Karzai only 47 per cent, making a second round necessary.

A result is expected within 48 hours.

US Senator John Kerry met the two rivals over the weekend and said it would be "irresponsible" to send more US troops to Afghanistan before a solution to the political tussle is reached.

In the US, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel called on the rivals to reach agreement or hold a runoff quickly.

The question of whether Washington has a "credible partner" is more important than the decision as to how many troops it will send, he told CNN television.

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