The new Afghan government must reflect the policies put forward by the two top presidential candidates in last month's disputed elections, regardless of which man is eventually declared the winner, Britain's foreign secretary said on Friday.
"Whatever the result, it's clear that opinion in Afghanistan was divided," David Miliband said of the race between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his closest challenger, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
"Millions of people came out for President Karzai, but millions also came out for Dr Abdullah," Miliband told BBC radio. "They represent the vast majority of Afghan voters, and it's their ideas and their reforms that need to help shape the future of Afghanistan."
Afghanistan's August 20 vote was not free and fair, Miliband said, but insisted the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission was dealing with complaints effectively.
Miliband said Britain would not tolerate "any whitewash in respect of this election," but he also said the international community should not consider Afghanistan to behave like a Western-style democracy.
"We have never used the phrase free and fair elections' because that's not appropriate," Miliband said. "It is vital that there is a credible result that comes out of this election."