November 7 is the date set for Afghans to go to the polls again to elect a president. While Hamid Karzai’s agreement to a run-off may have eased tensions with the West, his own people appear less than keen.
Fears over their safety and the approaching Afghan winter could influence the turn out. One Kabul resident said: “It has already snowed in some parts of the country and insecurity has increased. In my opinion it is very difficult to do the second round in 17 days.” President Karzai finally gave in yesterday to mounting international pressure and accepted the ruling by the country’s Election Commission. Dr.Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s main rival, said he felt vindicated. “I expected a run-off based on the votes and that was the expectation of the people of Afghanistan.” Evidence of fraud during August’s first round poll undermined the legitimacy of a future Afghan government and seriously damaged Western commitment to the NATO-led military mission. US President Barack Obama applauded Hamid Karzai’s decision. “ President Karzai, as well as the other candidates, have shown that they have the interests of the Afghan people at heart, that this is a reflection of a commitment to the rule of law and an insistence that the Afghan people’s will should be done.” Of course a second election risks the same fraud that derailed the first one, along with inciting more violence. But it has removed one stumbling block for Obama who is currently considering whether to send more troops.