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Annan congratulates Karzai on election as Afghanistan's head of State

Annan congratulates Karzai on election as Afghanistan's head of State

Kofi Annan with Hamid Karzai during visit to Kabul in January
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today congratulated Hamid Karzai, the Chairman of Afghanistan's Interim Administration, on his election to serve as the country's head of State.

"Today's election constitutes an important step towards peace and stability in Afghanistan," Mr. Annan said in a statement released by his spokesman after Afghanistan's Loya Jirga grand council chose Mr. Karzai to lead the Transitional Government for the next two years.

The Secretary-General "welcomes the enthusiastic embrace of this democratic process by the Afghan people and their leaders," said the statement, noting that Mr. Annan has been closely following the proceedings of the Loya Jirga.

Urging delegates to continue to use the peaceful forum of the Loya Jirga to pursue national reconciliation and to create a representative government, the Secretary-General said he looked forward to the "successful completion of the Loya Jirga's work and the inauguration of the new Transitional Authority."

Mr. Karzai won over two other candidates for the position of head of State: Masooda Jalal, a paediatrician with the World Food Programme (WFP), and Mir Mahfooz Nedai, a member of the Loya Jirga Commission. Mr. Karzai obtained 1,295 votes, Ms. Jalal 171 and Mr. Nedai 89.

Speaking after his nomination, Mr. Karzai said that while reconstruction had started in Afghanistan, government projects needed to be transparent, properly coordinated and effective.

In her statement, Ms. Jalal, the first woman candidate for President in Afghanistan's history, said the country should adopt new standards so that a democratic order could be established based on dignity and respect.

Also today, the Loya Jirga announced the results of the elections for the officers of its bureau. Muhammad Qasimyar, Chairman of the Special Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, was elected to Chair the six-day gathering. The Minister for Women's Affairs, Sima Samar, and Azam Dadfar were both elected as Vice-Chairmen.