In 1999 his father was assassinated, allegedly by the Taliban, and Karzai became head of the Populzai. He supported American intervention in Afghanistan and when U.S. bombing began in 2001 returned home to organize Pashtun resistance to the Taliban. Later that year a UN-sponsored Afghan conference named Karzai, who had strong U.S. support, interim head of the new government. In 2002 a traditional Afghan council [loya jirga] convened by the former king elected Karzai president.
Karzai won (2004) Afghanistan's first democratic presidental election, but his victory was marred by voting irregularities. In 2009, after an election marred by widespread fraud, he was declared reelected when his opponent withdrew in protest before the runoff vote. Karzai's government was generally weak and hurt by corruption, and for much of his time in office he was dependent on foreign forces for support and had relatively little authority outside Kabul. He was the target of several assassination attempts while in office. Karzai stepped down as president in 2014, and was succeeded by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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