Flag of Afghanistan
  1. Afghanistan Main Page
  2. Soviet Invasion
  3. The Rise of the Taliban
  4. The U.S. Responds to the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks
  5. Reemergence of the Taliban
  6. Taliban Attacks Become More Deadly
  7. Afghanistan Holds Second Direct Presidential Elections
  8. Support for the War on the Wane
  9. Osama bin Laden Is Killed
  10. Violence and Assassinations Diminish Confidence in Afghanistan's Security Forces
  11. U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates
  12. Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
  13. Presidential Election Marred by Allegations of Fraud; Unity Government Formed
  14. Taliban Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With U.S.; U.S. General Killed
  15. U.S. and NATO End Combat Operation in Afghanistan
  16. President Ghani Announces Cabinet Months After Taking Office; Visit With Obama Results in Additional U.S. Support
  17. Taliban Founder Reportedly Dead
  18. Taliban Captures Kunduz, Doctors Without Borders Hospital Hit in Airstrike
Afghanistan Holds Second Direct Presidential Elections

Provincial and presidential elections were held on August 20, 2009, despite calls by the Taliban to boycott the elections and the militia's attendant threats to harm those who cast votes. Violence spiked in the days leading up to the elections. More than 30 candidates challenged incumbent Karzai, with Abdullah Abdullah as the most formidable contender. Abdullah, who served under Karzai as minister of foreign affairs until 2006, ran as head of the United National Front opposition alliance. Early results put Karzai well ahead of Abdullah, but allegations of widespread and blatant fraud surfaced immediately. In September, the United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission announced it had "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" and called for a partial recount. Complaints of fraud were particularly egregious in southern regions of Afghanistan, where Karzai drew most of his support.

Election results released in October indicated that Karzai came up short in garnering 50% of the vote and a second-round election was necessary. Karzai agreed to participate in a runoff against his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. About a week before the Nov. 7 second-round election, Abdullah withdrew from the race in protest of the Karzai administration's refusal to dismiss election officials accused of taking part in the widespread fraud that marred the first round of the election. Karzai was declared the winner on Nov. 5 and began his second five-year term as president. He faced difficulties from the onset of his second term when parliament rejected about two-thirds of his cabinet picks in January 2010.

A smooth election was seen as vital for continued support of the U.S.-backed war in Afghanistan. During the election turmoil, President Obama's plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan began drawing opposition from critics who said the operation was veering away from the original mission to fight terrorism and toward nation building and who questioned Afghanistan's ability and commitment to improve security and stabilize its government.

Next: Support for the War on the Wane
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