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Karzai Sworn in for Second Term as Afghan President


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been sworn in after months of political uncertainty in the wake of a fraud-marred presidential election.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been sworn in for a second term after months of political uncertainty in the wake of a fraud-marred presidential election. He says fighting government corruption and improving security are among his top priorities.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says corruption constitutes a "very dangerous problem" for Afghanistan.

He says he plans to follow this issue seriously in his new five-year term. He also says he will host an international conference soon in Kabul to discuss how to better fight it. At the same time, he urged the international community to be more transparent with how it spends aid in his country.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Karzai promised good governance for Afghanistan.

He says his administration will appoint government officials based on their merit and that all senior officials will be required to declare their assets.

He also vowed to dismiss and prosecute all government employees who are connected to the country's illicit drug trade.

Afghanistan accounts for about 90 percent of the world's opium, which is the key ingredient in heroin. The president's brother Ahmed Wali Karzai - who is a provincial minister - has been linked to the profitable trade, but he denies the accusations.

Afghan security forces blocked nearly all the roads in much of the city, as dignitaries from more than 40 countries attended President Karzai's inauguration.

Mr. Karzai thanked the international community for its continued support. But he said he wants to work toward Afghanistan relying on its own forces for security.

He says that by the end of his term, he hopes Afghan forces will lead all the security operations in the country.

Mr. Karzai also said he plans to pursue national reconciliation for peace.

He invited all those dissatisfied with his government and not linked to international terrorism to work toward reconstruction. He said he plans to call a traditional assembly of different ethnic elders to ensure peace.

President Karzai also reached out to his rivals in the disputed presidential election. He invited all candidates to partner with him and apologized if anyone was upset by him or his administration.

The August 20 election was marred by widespread fraud. Mr. Karzai won by default after his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from a runoff, saying it was impossible for the vote to be fair.

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