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Karzai promises reform

Former challenger Abdullah, who dropped out of the runoff, said he will not join Karzai’s administration.

Afghan men celebrate Hamid Karzai’s victory over Abdullah Abdullah in the Afghanistan’s presidential election in Herat, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.


KABUL — Afghanistan’s president welcomed his new term — achieved after his main opponent withdrew from a runoff election — by reaching out to opponents Tuesday and promising to banish the corruption that has undermined his administration.

Hamid Karzai did not spell out how he would institute reforms or mention whether he is willing to make concessions to his opponents.

Karzai spoke a day after being declared victor of an election so marred by fraud that it took two and a half months, and intense international pressure, to resolve. His main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, said when he dropped out of the planned runoff that he was withdrawing because it could not be free or fair.

Karzai said in a speech he wants people from every part of the country in his government, including political opponents. But he never mentioned Abdullah by name.

“Those who want to work with me are most welcome, regardless of whether they opposed me in the election or whether they supported me in the elections,” Karzai said.

Abdullah, who once served as Karzai’s foreign minister, has said he will not join Karzai’s administration, but will work from the outside for reforms and for national unity.

Even so, people close to Karzai and Abdullah say they spent the past few days negotiating privately about ministry seats or accommodating Abdullah’s platform in some way. The U.S. and its allies have also pressured Karzai to institute reforms and to reach out to the Abdullah camp.

President Barack Obama said Monday that he had called for a new chapter during a telephone call congratulating Karzai over his re-election. When Karzai offered assurances, Obama told him that “the proof is not going to be in words. It’s going to be in deeds.”

Karzai said he needs international support and does not want to squander the goodwill of those supplying thousands of troops and funds to Afghanistan.

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