Kerry draws line on more troops until election clarified

By Branko Brkic 19 October 2009

Senator John Kerry says it is “irresponsible…when we don't even have an election finished, and know who the president is” to send more soldiers to Afghanistan. Kerry spoke as senior foreign officials pushed Afghan President Hamid Karzai to accept an electoral run-off - as an ongoing fraud investigation will most likely bring his vote total below the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Kerry is chairman of the powerful foreign relations committee in the US Senate and is a former Democratic presidential candidate as well. His criticism comes just as the Obama administration continues its internal debate over the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation that more US troops be sent to support the beleaguered military mission there. The August election gave Karzai 55% and opponent Abdullah Abdullah some 28%. The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) investigated the result following allegations of widespread electoral fraud. Meanwhile, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown both telephoned the candidates, urging Karzai to accept the ECC's fraud investigations. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner was in Kabul to meet the candidates. Given all this, the ECC may delay its results announcement.

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