Newly-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he hopes to establish a multi-ethnic government to deal with the problems caused by three decades of Soviet occupation, civil war, and Taleban oppression. Mr. Karzai says his goals include improving Afghanistan's economy, ending corruption, and reducing illegal drug trafficking:
"The greatest achievement of Afghanistan, of the Afghan people, has been the remarkable smoothness with which the political process went forward, that the political process delivered everything on time, and that the Afghan people participated fully in the political process."
The United Nations-Afghan joint electoral commission recently declared Mr. Karzai the winner of the October 9th presidential election in Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai won more than fifty-five percent of an estimated eight-million votes. More than forty percent of the voters were women. Remnants of the Islamic extremist Taleban regime had threatened to disrupt the election. They did not succeed.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the U.S. congratulates Mr. Karzai "on his election as Afghanistan's first democratically elected leader":
"The election is the latest milestone on the Afghan people's road to democratic government and a vibrant civil society."
One voter, a Kabul widow named Nuzko, said, "I am so old, so this vote is not just for me. It is for my grandchildren." Nuzko stressed that she wants "Afghanistan to be secure and peaceful."
Next year, the people of Afghanistan will take another major step when they return to the polls to select members of a national parliament and local government officials. State Department spokesman Boucher says the U.S. "will continue to support them as they work towards this bright future."