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Afghan Presidential Rivals Accept Election Result --> Hamid Karzai (file photo) 4 November 2004 -- Hamid Karzai's chief rivals in Afghanistan's presidential election accepted the result of the poll today, one day after the U.S-backed interim leader was declared the winner.

Yunos Qanuni said he will accept the result of the 9 October ballot for the sake of the nation. Qanuni had finished second with 16 percent compared to Karzai's 55 percent.

"I'm sure that if we don't recognize the results of the election and we question the legitimacy of this vote after the [official] declaration of he results, the country will go through a crisis. And the crisis will be because of confrontations between the supporters of different candidates. Their arguments and political positions will lead, in the end, to war and military clashes and ethnic tension," Qanuni said.

Qanuni repeated his charge that the vote was tainted by fraud in favor of Karzai, but said he wishes Karzai success.

Ethnic Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqeq and Chafiga Habibi, the running mate of ethnic Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, also said at the same news conference that they too will recognize Karzai as president. Mohaqeq finished third, and Dostum placed fourth in the poll.

The UN-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body officially proclaimed Karzai the winner yesterday. Karzai is expected to deliver a victory speech in Kabul today.


[For more on the Afghan elections, see RFE/RL and Radio Free Afghanistan's dedicated "Afghanistan Votes 2004-05" webpage.]