Karzai declared Afghan vote winner

Election organisers have declared Hamid Karzai president of Afghanistan for another five years, cancelling a run-off which threatened to descend into farce and further destabilise the country.

The announcement today followed intense diplomatic pressure and sought to draw a line under two months of political chaos in a war-torn nation where 100,000 NATO and US troops are battling an increasingly virulent Taliban insurgency.

"We declare that Mr Hamid Karzai, who won the mass of votes in the first round and is the only candidate in the second round, is the elected president of Afghanistan,'' Independent Election Commission (IEC) chairman Azizullah Ludin said.

The president's only challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, quit the contest on Sunday charging there were no safeguards to prevent a repeat of massive fraud that threw out nearly a quarter of votes cast in August.

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