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Karzai Becomes Afghanistan's First Elected President

Afghanistan's transitional leader Hamid Karzai has won the war-shattered country's first-ever presidential election. the announcement came after a special panel endorsed the election results as free and fair.

The United Nations-Afghan joint electoral commission has announced that interim leader Hamid Karzai is the winner of the October 9 presidential election in Afghanistan.

It says Mr. Karzai has won more than 55 percent of the vote and no run-off vote will be needed.

Chairman Zakeem Shah of the joint commission made the formal announcement in Kabul Wednesday.

Mr. Shah said under the constitution Mr. Karzai has won the election and has become the first-ever elected president of Afghanistan. The announcement came after an U.N.-appointed panel completed its investigation of allegations of election irregularities.

A Canadian member of the panel, Craig Jenness, says there were problems on election day but fewer than many experts had expected. Mr. Jenness told reporters that "shortcomings" during the voting, such as the failure and mix-up of indelible ink meant to stain voters' fingers to prevent multiple voting, did not have an impact on the outcome of the vote.

"This was the result of technical and administrative failures," said Mr. Jenness. "There were no political motives. There were attempts at electoral fraud. However, there is no evidence that these attempts were widespread and or limited to the supporters of any one candidate."

Mr. Jenness says Afghans and the international community still need to do more to improve the election process before the parliamentary elections in April.

"Major structural changes and measures to increase transparency will ensure that their jobs are easier and will assist in improving much needed trust and confidence across the political spectrum," he added.

For the past three years, President Karzai has led a transitional government that was put in place after a U.S.-led military coalition removed Afghanistan's Taleban regime from power in late 2001 for harboring international terrorists.