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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 12:45 GMT
Karzai declared Afghan president
Hamid Karzai addresses the United Nations General Assembly, September, 2004
Karzai: First chosen to lead Afghanistan in December 2001
Hamid Karzai has been officially declared the winner of Afghanistan's landmark presidential election.

The chairman of the nation's electoral board made the announcement at a ceremony in the capital, Kabul, on Wednesday afternoon.

The announcement came after a panel probing voting irregularities said they would not affect the outcome.

Mr Karzai, who is attending the funeral of the United Arab Emirates president, won 55.4% of the vote on 9 October.

Congratulations

"His Excellency Hamid Karzai is the winner of the election. We are announcing the first elected president of Afghanistan," the electoral board chairman, Zakim Shah, said.

QUICK GUIDE

UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, led the international reaction to the news.

"I am sure that the whole house will join me in sending congratulations to President Karzai of Afghanistan," he told the House of Commons in London.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent a letter of congratulations, saying: "I wish you luck and success in carrying out the tasks that await you."

Analysts say President Karzai will try to use his new mandate to unite a country still riven by ethnic, religious, regional and tribal rivalries.


High on his agenda will be continued efforts to curb regional warlords, the realisation of an effective national security force and pursuing international aid pledges to maintain national redevelopment plans.

Mr Shah's announcement of the president came after a three-member United Nations panel, set up to examine complaints, many made by candidates opposing Mr Karzai, reported on Wednesday.

The report said: "There were shortcomings... but they could not have materially affected the overall result."

Most complaints centred on the supposedly indelible ink used to mark voters' thumbs to prevent people voting more than once on polling day.

In many places, voters were easily able to wash or scrub the ink off.

Abductions

The UN panel submitted its report to the election commission, which is made up of UN and Afghan officials.

Afghan boy
Karzai has a strong mandate for his plans for Afghanistan's future

Afghanistan's leading human rights body had criticised the fact that no Afghans were part of the panel.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said the decision to have only foreigners on the panel raised "a number of concerns" since many of the problems with the elections were blamed on international staff and organisations.

Large numbers of Afghans turned out for the country's first ever presidential election.

The election process was largely free of the violence threatened by the country's hard-line former Taleban rulers.

However, three foreign poll workers were abducted by armed men in Kabul last week.

A militant group which claims to be holding the three people - Annetta Flanigan from the UK, Filipino Angelito Nayan and Kosovan Shqipe Habibi - has threatened to kill them if its demand for the release of prisoners held in Afghan jails and Guantanamo Bay is not met.





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