Commentary: Afghanistan democracy hindered by diplomatic flap

The recent dustup between Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke creates a dangerous roadblock to democracy in that nation.

Holbrooke, the most influential foreign diplomat in Afghanistan, met with Karzai to discuss what is obvious about recent elections: There were problems. When Holbrooke suggested a runoff election, Karzai kicked him out of the office, according to some reports.

Holbrooke was suggesting an honest way forward. Karzai, who claims victory, and Abdullah Abdullah, his closest challenger, must face each other again. Official results show Karzai now leads, with about a fifth of the vote counted, but does not have the needed 50 percent to avoid a runoff.

Karzai's supporters insist he’s collected 68 percent of the vote. But reports of voter intimidation and ballot stuffing are rampant. There were even reports that election officials who tried to stop irregularities were beaten. To many Afghans, it appears Karzai has stolen the election.

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