Afghanistan’s first democratically-elected president has been sworn in. Hamid Karzai has led the country since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and was officially elected in October. His inauguration passed off peacefully despite threats of violence from the former hardline regime. Security was tight, especially given the scores of foreign dignitaries attending, including US Vice President Dick Cheyney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. Karzai thanked Washington for its support of Afghanistan.
“We are very, very grateful, to put it in the simple words that we know, to the people of the United States of America for bringing us this day,” he said. “A day of peace, a day of democracy, a day of the empowerment of the Afghan people.” Cheyney pledged his nation’s continued backing of Afghanistan.“The United States and our coalition partners were proud to join with brave Afghan citizens in liberating this nation and we will continue to stand with Afghans in building a future of freedom, stability and peace,” he said. Stability remains one of the key issues Karzai will have to deal with. The nation is plagued by unrest. Since August last year militant-related violence has killed more than 1,000 people.