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Asia-pacific

Obama urges Karzai to tackle corruption

Video by Christophe DANSETTE , Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-03

In a congratulatory call to Hamid Karzai, who retains leadership of Afghanistan after a presidential run-off vote was scrapped on Monday, US President Barack Obama urged the Afghan leader to step up efforts to fight corruption in the war-torn nation.

US President Barack Obama congratulated Afghan leader Hamid Karzai on his re-election on Monday - but warned him to step up efforts to fight corruption.

The administration earlier said it recognised Hamid Karzai as the legitimate president of Afghanistan, despite a fraud-riddled election that saw millions of ballots favouring Karzai to be thrown out.
 
Speaking from the Oval Office, Obama told Karzai it was time to “write a new chapter based on improved governance” and to make “a much more serious effort to eradicate corruption.”
 
"He assured me that he understood the importance of this moment. But as I indicated to him, the proof is not going to be in words. It's going to be in deeds," Obama warned.
  
JEROME STARKEY REPORTING FROM KABUL
Karzai, installed as the Afghan leader after the US forces ousted Taliban Islamic militants in 2001, was on Monday declared the winner of August's presidential election, which was marred by widespread fraud and ballot-stuffing.
  
"Although the process was messy, I'm pleased to say that the final outcome was determined in accordance with Afghan law, which I think is very important not only for the international community that has so much invested in Afghan success, but most importantly is important for the Afghan people," Obama said.
  
Legitimacy questioned
 
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs faced repeated questions at a briefing on how Washington could work with Karzai when his legitimacy had been so widely questioned after the tainted August vote.
 
"President Karzai has been declared the winner,” Gibbs told reporters. “So obviously he is the legitimate leader of the country.”
 
Gibbs tried to put the best face on a situation that presents a potential headache for the Obama administration..
 
Afghan election officials on Monday scrapped a Nov. 7 run-off vote and declared Karzai president after the only other candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew, citing doubts about the fairness of the process.
 
US officials had said previously they needed a credible partner in Afghanistan as Obama considers a request for up to 40,000 extra troops to halt a deteriorating security situation.
 
Gibbs said Obama would announce his new strategy "in the next few weeks."
 
The timing had never been dependent on the outcome of the election, he said, although administration officials had previously suggested it was a factor.
 
A senior administration official told Reuters that Obama was not likely to announce his new strategy before he embarks on a 10-day trip to Asia on Nov. 11.
 

 

Date created : 2009-11-02

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