Amid criticism that the decision of Afghan Election Commission on Presidential polls was not legal, the U.S. on Thursday said it considers Hamid Karzai as the “legitimately elected” president of the war-torn country.

“We believe that there was an election that was carried out according to Afghan law. We recognise Hamid Karzai as the legitimately elected president of Afghanistan,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

His statement assumes significance in the wake of main opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah disputing the decision of the Independent Election Commission which declared Mr. Karzai as the next Afghan president after he withdrew from the November 7 run-off.

Noting that the U.S. respects Mr. Abdullah, Mr. Kelly hoped that he stays engaged in the political process and plays a part in the dialogue and the political life of the country.

“But our position is that Hamid Karzai is the legitimately elected president of Afghanistan,” he said.

“We greatly respect Abdullah, and we think that he conducted a very spirited campaign. We respect him for his ideas. But we believe that Hamid Karzai is the legitimately elected leader of Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Karzai was declared elected as per the constitution of Afghanistan.

Mr. Kelly said every step along the way the Afghan institutions who were running the elections followed the procedures as established by Afghan law.

“And Hamid Karzai won a plurality of the votes. He didn’t make the 50 percent mark because all of these votes that were considered to be suspect or outright fraudulent were thrown out,” he said.

“It was determined that they should have a runoff. And one of the candidates in the runoff withdrew. And the Independent Election Commission at that point saw no reason to continue with a one-man election, and declared Mr. Hamid Karzai the winner.

“I don’t think anybody is contesting the right of the Independent Elections Commission to so rule. There is a process,” he said.

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