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Afghan Election Officials Declare Karzai Winner


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has secured a second term in office after the election commission canceled a runoff vote in the country's disputed poll.

The commission chief (Azizullah Ludin) said Monday President Karzai would keep his post because he won the first August election, and was the only candidate in the runoff that was scheduled for November 7.

Mr. Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the race because of concerns about widespread fraud, which marred the August vote.

The United Nations, the United States, Britain and other allies welcomed the development and congratulated President Karzai.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he urged Mr. Karzai by phone Monday to eradicate corruption and improve Afghanistan's governance.

Mr. Obama says he will be consulting closely with the Karzai government to ensure the Afghan people are actually seeing progress on the ground.


He said the Afghan leader told him he understands, to which Mr. Obama said he responded, the proof is "not in words," but in "deeds."

Mr. Obama's spokesman (Robert Gibbs) said the administration would be deciding within weeks whether to send more troops to the war in Afghanistan.

He said knowing who will be Afghanistan's president will help the Obama administration formulate its war strategy.

Earlier Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met both Mr. Karzai and Mr. Abdullah on a visit to Kabul Monday. He said Mr. Karzai must quickly form a government that has the support of the Afghan people and the international community.

In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also urged the Afghan leader to quickly set out a unity program for the country.

Mr. Brown said he congratulated Mr. Karzai by phone and urged him to take measures to tackle corruption and strengthen local governments.

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