3 Nov 2009

Afghan run-off vote scrapped, Karzai declared president

10:10 am on 3 November 2009

The planned second round of voting in Afghanistan's presidential election has been cancelled and Hamid Karzai declared president.

The announcement comes a day after Mr Karzai's sole challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the race, citing a failure to take measures that would prevent large-scale fraud, the BBC reports.

The first round had been marred by fraud.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the second round on 7 November was being scrapped to save money, for security reasons and to prevent further setbacks that could damage Afghanistan politically and economically.

The Taliban, which carried out attacks across the country during the first round, had vowed to disrupt the polls again next Saturday.

One of the reasons for holding a deciding vote had been to try to restore some legitimacy to the process, after the discredited first round on 20 August.

The United States has responded to the decision by saying Mr Karzai is Afghanistan's "legitimate leader".

President Barack Obama said he told Mr Karzai on Monday he wanted to see actions and would monitor the situation to ensure there is progress in Afghanistan.

Mr Obama said he pressed the Afghan leader on better governance and corruption after a "messy" election.

Mr Karzai was first elected Afghan president in 2004.