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Karzai Confident Afghan Vote Count will be Orderly, Transparent - 2004-10-11

Afghanistan's interim president Hamid Karzai says he is confident the ballots from the country's historic presidential election Saturday will be counted in an orderly and transparent manner. Mr. Karzai made his comments in an interview with American television.

Speaking on NBC's Today show, interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he believes the presidential ballots from Saturday's election are safe and will be counted openly.

"The ballots, I believe, are already being secured by a combination of operations by the United Nations, the Afghan security forces, the International Security Forces," he said. "That is already being done. The counting will be done in full view of cameras. Afghan television will telecast it, direct from the counting stations. I am confident enough the vote will be counted properly."

The results are not expected to be announced for several weeks. Mr. Karzai, who is expected to win the election, says the ballot was a milestone in Afghanistan's recent history.

"Everybody, all over the country, people braved attacks by terrorists and went to the elections," said President Karzai. "This was really a victory of the Afghan people over terrorism."

The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington's war against terrorism. There are 18,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, along with more than 8,000 NATO peacekeepers.

When asked how much longer international troops need to stay in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said it will be years before the country can stand on its own feet.

"The presence of the international security forces, the U.S. forces, is, in addition to fighting terrorism, also needed to bring Afghanistan back to its own self-resources, in terms of the institutions, in terms of the economy, in terms of the laws," he said.

Mr. Karzai said U.S. troops and NATO peacekeepers have been training the Afghan military and police force. He added that Afghanistan is also receiving wide-ranging international help with its reconstruction efforts.