Schroeder predicts Karzaiwinner of election

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 October 2004 , KABUL - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder predicted that Afganistan's President Hamid Karzai would be declared the winner in the country's first direct presidential election held just two days ago during a visit to Kabul Monday.

11 October 2004

KABUL - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder predicted that Afganistan's President Hamid Karzai would be declared the winner in the country's first direct presidential election held just two days ago during a visit to Kabul Monday.

"I am of the opinion that he will win it, and in the first round," said Schroeder after a meeting with Karzai.

The German leader's six-hour visit to Kabul comes after the war-torn country held its first direct presidential election Saturday, which is now being disputed due to allegations of fraud. 

Schroeder's arrival in Afghanistan came amid criticism by several presidential candidates that his visit showed unfair support for interim President Hamid Karzai.

Candidate Mir Mohammad Mahfuz Nedahi said Schroeder's visit while the ballots were still being counted indicated that he assumes Karzai will win the election. "Germany is giving 100 percent support to US policies with this visit," he said late Sunday. 

An election result isn't expected before 30 October. 

The chancellor said, the criticism doesn't disturb him, calling the election an "historical breakthrough" and an important step toward democracy and stability. 

Schroeder also assured Karzai of Germany's continued support to the war-torn country.   Upon his arrival, Schroeder praised the work of a 2,000-strong German contingent serving as peacekeepers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. He said that without the ISAF and German troops, the security situation would not have allowed the election to go forward.

Schroeder said the ISAF forces had prevented any major security problems during the balloting, resulting in a victory for the troops, a smooth election process and "political success".

The chancellor, who decided to go ahead with this visit to Kabul despite security concern.

Last Friday, a rocket exploded just a few metres from the German embassy in Kabul. No injuries were reported from the attack, which was claimed by Taliban rebels.

A group of presidential candidates has alleged irregularities in the balloting, charging that ink meant to give evidence that a person had voted apparently washed off at some polling places.

The US-backed Karzai was expected to win in the field of 18 candidates, although the vote counting is expected to take several weeks.

The United Nations and other international officials have promised to investigate any alleged fraud. Some candidates have demanded a repeat of the vote. 

Schroeder ended his visit to Kabul one hour early and flew to Berlin.

DPA

Subject: German news

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