Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ruled out calling a second round of elections over fraud allegations, which cast a shadow over US deliberations on whether to send more troops.
Preliminary results from Afghanistan’s second-ever presidential election put Karzai on track to defeat rival Abdullah Abdullah without a second round, but European Union observers said nearly a quarter of votes could be fraudulent.
Asked if he would agree to a second round to ease concerns about the election’s legitimacy, Karzai told CNN: “That is not in my authority to do.”
“Taking it to a second round or a runoff by engineering it in that direction, that is itself fraud and not the right thing to do. It’s against Afghan constitution,” he said on Thursday.
“We cannot claim a wrong and then commit another wrong in order to make a right.”
Karzai did not exclude inviting Abdullah into a coalition government but said he would only do so to unite the country, not to respond to fraud allegations, which he insisted were false.
Senior US officials acknowledged they were in a bind over how to handle the election.
Karzai, first installed in the wake of the US-led military operation that ousted the Taliban in 2001, enjoyed a warm relationship with former president George W Bush but Obama has distanced himself from the Afghan leader.