Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Afghan elections - an uncertain future

It was a decision that Western leaders had waited to hear for days. At the presidential palace, the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, finally accepted that he had failed to win an outright majority, and that this election requires a second round.

It was no coincidence that a host of ambassadors and the UN special envoy, Kai Eide, were in attendance.

The man who did most to end the political deadlock, US senator John Kerry, stood alongside President Karzai during the announcement.

The Afghan leader has been the subject of a fevered round of diplomacy, receiving phone calls from world leaders urging him to accept a second round.

President Karzai believed - and perhaps still does - that an election victory had been stolen from him.

But his position was weakened by the publication of report by a UN-backed panel on Monday, which showed that a third of the incumbent's votes were fraudulent.

That meant that President Karzai's share of the vote had dropped below the 50% mark, meaning a second round was constitutionally required.

Two option scenario?

Mr Karzai had known the report's findings since last week.

And finally on Tuesday, he caved in to the overwhelming international pressure to accept this.

What will happen next is still not clear: there appear to be two options.

The first is that President Karzai and his challenger Dr Abdullah Abdullah could agree to form a national unity government.

For the rest of the report click here for the BBC website

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