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US tightens screws on Karzai -

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US tightens screws on Karzai

John Shovelan reported this story on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: Now to Afghanistan where US pressure is mounting on President Hamid Karzai to end the
political uncertainty in his country by calling a run-off election.

The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission today confirmed that the August election was marred
by massive fraud, declaring that about 1.3 million votes - or a quarter of those cast - were
invalid.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she expected Mr Karzai to respond to these
findings swiftly by either calling a second round election or by setting up a power sharing
government with his opponent Abdullah Abdullah.

From Washington John Shovelan reports.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry went to Kabul
to deliver a tough message from the US Government. In a series of meetings with the President Hamid
Karzai he said unless the political crisis was fixed there would be no new commitment from the US.

JOHN KERRY: I don't see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our
additional forces or even the further fulfilment of our mission that is here today without an
adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government is going to be.

JOHN SHOVELAN: That message was repeated from all corners of the White House.

Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanual:

RAHM EMANUAL: He would be reckless to make a decision on US troop level if in fact you haven't done
a thorough analysis of whether in fact there is an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the
US troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Mr Karzai appears to have heeded the warnings. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
says she expects the Afghan President to reveal his intentions tomorrow and bring a speedy end to
the electoral crisis.

HILLARY CLINTON: I am very hopeful that we will see a resolution in line with the constitutional
order in the next several days.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The expectation is that Mr Karzai will announce a run-off election - an option he
had until today fiercely resisted.

Preliminary election results showed Mr Karzai winning with more than 54 per cent of the vote - a
vote which was bloated by electoral fraud.

But after the report by the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission Mr Karzai's vote fell below
the all important 50 per cent which required a run-off.

Still Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations says he expects Mr Karzai will
win the run-off election but he will be forced to accept a broader based government.

RICHARD HAASS: We need these guys to do something about corruption. Karzai has to rein in his
brother for example. We would like them to accelerate the training of Afghan police and military
forces. We would like them to do something on drugs.

So there is a whole list of concerns that we have.

JOHN SHOVELAN: With winter rapidly approaching in Afghanistan there have been doubts that it would
be possible to hold another national election before the freeze.

But Hillary Clinton says she has been assured it is.

HILLARY CLINTON: We have every assurance from General McChrystal and the ISAF command as well as
the Afghan security representatives that it is absolutely possible to do.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The breakthrough in the crisis will now allow the Obama administration to proceed
with its critical troop decisions. The President has already had five meetings of his war council
and another is expected sometime this week.

President Obama has been deliberative in the process and has been accused by Republicans, who
support a massive troop increase, of dithering.

John Shovelan, Washington.