South Asia News
Afghan elections were setback for Taliban, Holbrooke says
Sep 2, 2009, 16:06 GMT
Paris - Last month's presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan were a success for the Afghan people and 'not a good day for the Taliban,' the US special envoy to the country, Richard Holbrooke, said Wednesday in Paris.
'On election day, the Taliban failed. They said they would disrupt the elections, but they didn't,' Holbrooke said as he and special representatives to Afghanistan from 26 other nations met in Paris to discuss the country's future.
But he said the claims of massive vote rigging that have followed the August 20 poll must be resolved.
'Determining who won the election is going to be critical to the future of Afghanistan,' Holbrooke said, adding that claims of irregularities 'happen in every democracy.'
The New York Times reported Wednesday that there have been more than 2,600 claims of vote-rigging since the election.
Holbrooke, special UN representative to Afghanistan Kai Eide and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who chaired the Paris meeting, all said they had faith in the Afghan election commission to deal with the claims.
Holbrooke also used the occasion to refute media reports that he had violently quarreled over reports of election fraud with incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai when the two men met immediately after the vote.
'Nobody shouted, nobody walked out,' he said. 'Issues of voter fraud were not on the table then.'
Eide said the deadline for decisions on the fraud claims and the fairness of the vote was September 17.
'I don't foresee much of a delay,' he said. 'The institutions are in place to handle the situation.'
Kouchner said that a retreat of alliance forces from Afghanistan could not be foreseen 'until the country has been secured.'
According to Holbrooke, 41 countries currently have troops in Afghanistan.
He noted that the 17,000 US soldiers and 4,000 trainers that had been deployed to help secure the election would remain in the country.