The official results have yet to be announced for Afghanistan’s presidential election, and incumbent President Hamid Karzai is facing pressure to agree to a do-over, but for his part, Karzai is pushing back against critics who claim that thousands of votes were forged to keep him in his country’s top position. –KA

Times Online:

Mr Karzai has had tense meetings with Richard Holbrooke, the US regional envoy, who urged him to face a second round in the disputed elections, and earlier in the year with Joe Biden, the US Vice-President, who walked out of a meeting with him.

His confrontational stance has been interpreted as an attempt to curry favour with the Afghan people, who are often resentful of the 100,000 foreign troops on their soil. Mr Karzai, who swept to power after the 2001 US invasion and was elected President in 2004, has been seen as dependent on the US. He said yesterday that it was in no one’s interests for him to be an American puppet.

He also brushed off what Abdullah Abdullah, his main presidential rival, called “state-engineered” vote-rigging and told the newspaper Le Figaro that fraud was “inevitable in a budding democracy”. Dr Abdullah has warned of instability if the allegations are not addressed seriously.

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