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Karzai wants better poll run-off

world Updated: Oct 23, 2009 23:57 IST
Hamid Shalizi

Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai said he wants a better and cleaner presidential election run-off in November to bring stability at a time when Taliban violence is at its worst in eight years of war.

Karzai agreed to face his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, in a November 7 run-off after a UN-led fraud inquiry annulled enough of his votes from the first round in August to trigger a rematch.

The Afghan leader has played down fraud allegations, but bowed to international pressure and ordered a run-off as a way to bolster the election’s credibility at a time when the United States is weighing whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

In a statement late on Thursday, Karzai said he accepted the run-off for the sake of stability.

“I accepted the second round in the interests of the nation, to strengthen stability and prospects for democracy in Afghanistan,” the presidential palace quoted him as saying.

“Now that we are holding the second round in two weeks, I want it to be better than the first round,” he said.

Concerns about security and a repeat of the fraud that tainted the first round have cast a shadow as officials in Afghanistan kicked off hasty preparations for the vote.