Decision on Afghan troops may wait
The White House signaled Sunday that President Obama would postpone any decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until the disputed election there had been settled and resulted in a government that could work with the United States.
As an audit of Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 election ground toward a conclusion, American officials pressed President Hamid Karzai to accept a runoff vote or share power with his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister. Although Mr. Karzai’s support appeared likely to fall below 50 percent in the final count, together he and Mr. Abdullah received 70 percent, in theory enough to forge a unity government with national credibility.
The question at the heart of the matter, said President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is not “how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?” He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.” [continued…]
Karzai backers take harder line on recount
Supporters of incumbent President Hamid Karzai demonstrated to protest “foreign interference” in Afghanistan’s drawn-out election process, as results of a vote recount were postponed and Karzai campaign officials suggested his camp may not accept the official results.
As they await the recount, which aims to throw out fraudulent votes, officials from the Karzai campaign cast aspersions on the process, centering their criticism on the United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, which is re-tallying the numbers.
Although the ECC finished its audit Thursday, it said it was reviewing the results to ensure there were no mistakes before releasing it to the Independent Electoral Commission in coming days; the ECC didn’t give a precise date. The Independent Electoral Commission will then subtract from the total count the votes disqualified by the ECC. [continued…]