September 2, 2009 / 3:46 PM / 8 years ago

US wants fair Afghan vote, no problem with run-off

2 Min Read

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Herat, western Afghanistan in this August 22, 2009 file photo. Holbrooke said on Wednesday it did not matter to the United States if there was a run-off vote in the Afghan election but a fair ballot procedure was vital.Raheb Homavandi/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Wednesday it did not matter to the United States if there was a run-off vote in the Afghan election but a fair ballot procedure was vital.

"The post-election phase, the phase of determining who won, is going to be critical in determining the future of Afghanistan," said Holbrooke, speaking before a meeting in Paris of international experts on Afghanistan.

He played down accusations of voting irregularities in the Aug. 20 election, saying such disputes were a normal part of the democratic process.

Partial results have shown that incumbent Hamid Karzai has a clear lead over his main rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, and could win re-election in a single round, but his opponents have questioned the ballot's fairness.

"During (the post-election) process, there will be many claims of irregularities. That happens in any democracy," Holbrooke said. "It happens in democracies, even when they are not in the middle of a war," he added.

He said the United States had no preferred candidate and would not be troubled if no clear victor emerged from the first round ballot.

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