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Afghanistan: Second round presidential run-off poll called off

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Afghanistan: Second round presidential run-off poll called off

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Afghanistan as news broke that the second-round presidential run-off vote had been cancelled.

Ban Ki-Moon is due to hold talks with President Hamid Karzai and former rival Abdullah Abdullah, whose decision to pull out of a run-off vote, planned for next Saturday cast doubt on the legitmacy of the poll. The Afghan government-appointed Independent Election Commission says there will not now be a second round vote and has confirmed Hamid Karzai as President. Analysts say Dr Abdullah’s withdrawal from the planned run-off leaving Karzai as the sole candidate, would have robbed the poll of any credibility. In Kabul, residents just want some semblance of normality. Kabul resident Mohammed Amman said: “The second round should happen by any means, it doesn’t matter if Doctor Abdullah is attending or not, it should happen because the Afghan constitution tells us the second round should happen.” Mohammed Arif said: “These two honorable people should work for the benefit and the stability of the country. They have to try their best to rescue people from this current situation.” Analysts say a weakened, or suspect Afghan government under Karzai would have posed a problem for US President Barack Obama as he considers whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to fight a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. An attack by gunmen last week on a UN guesthouse left 11 dead, five of them UN staff. Military deaths have already reached record levels this year with October, the bloodiest month of the eight year war for US forces.