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Karzai pledges 'clean' government

Karzai pledges 'clean' government

In his first remarks since being declared winner of August's fraud-marred election, he said he would "eradicate the stain" of corruption.

He also pledged an inclusive government for anyone who wanted to work with him whether they supported or opposed him.

Poll officials scrapped a planned run-off after Mr Karzai's challenger pulled out, saying the vote would not be free.

Mr Karzai said in Tuesday's news conference in Kabul it would have been better if Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister, had taken part in the vote, which was scheduled for 7 November.

The administration of Mr Karzai - who was first elected president in 2004 - has been accused of widespread corruption.

On Monday, US President Barack Obama asked Mr Karzai to intensify efforts to eradicate it.

"Afghanistan has been defamed by corruption. Our government has been defamed by corruption," Mr Karzai said, according to AFP news agency.

"We will strive, by any means possible, to eradicate this stain."

Hundreds of thousands of votes were discounted from August's first round, including almost a third of ballots cast for Mr Karzai.

Dr Abdullah had demanded the removal of key poll officials before he would participate in a second round, which Mr Karzai had been the favourite to win.
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