Hamid Karzai was declared the victor of Afganistan's bitterly fought presidential contest after a second round vote was cancelled by election officials.
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British and American officials rushed to congratulate Mr Karzai as the country's "legitimate leader" as the international community tried to draw a line under months of paralysing political limbo following the Aug 20 vote which was mired in fraud.
But London and Washington also made clear that they expect him to make immediate moves towards bolstering the ranks of the armed forces, tackling corruption and giving the defeated opposition a role within his new government.
The White House said there would be "hard conversations" ahead during the early weeks of Mr Karzai's second term, while Gordon Brown called on Mr Karzai to set out a "unifying" programme for Afghanistan.
After initially insisting that a run-off between Mr Karzai and his challenger Abdullah Abdullah be held on Nov 7, the Independent Election Commission announced it was no longer needed.
Dr Abdullah pulled out of the race on Sunday, telling a rally of supporters that it would be impossible to hold a free and fair second round in the face of state fraud.
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary general, then made an unexpected visit to Kabul early on Monday and met both candidates. He called on the election officials to resolve the matter "as soon as possible" in a "politically sustainable way".
An hour later, the IEC said the vote had been cancelled to prevent insecurity and instability and added that Mr Karzai had won.
Zekria Barakzai, deputy chief electoral officer, said: "Why should people sacrifice their lives for an election when the result is already known?"
Dr Abdullah is yet to respond to the result as power-sharing negotiations between the two camps continued without a deal having been reached.
His supporters, including a former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, have been haggling for ministerial posts in return for accepting Mr Karzai's win.
It is thought that while some of Dr Abdullah's supporters might be given positions in the administration, he is likely to receive a senior post outside of the government.
Dr Abdullah retains strong allies among powerful ethnic Tajik commanders in northern Afghanistan, and his support is seen as critical for any hope of workable government.
One international official said: "There's no way that Karzai can govern without the support of Abdullah."
Baryalai Arsalai, a former presidential candidate who pulled out of the race to join Dr Abdullah, said the decision did not make Mr Karzai the legitimate president.
He said: "He doesn't have the majority vote that's needed to become president. He still has a problem of legitimacy.
"When I see foreign countries congratulating him and welcoming him as legitimate president, they themselves are not recognising the principles of democracy."
The coalition powers now face five more years with their uneasy ally in the presidential palace and must try to rebuild a deeply strained relationship with Mr Karzai.
The announcement came in a day of rapid developments as diplomats and the United Nations lobbied to cancel the second round, saying a vote featuring only one candidate would waste resources and needlessly risk lives.
A decision on a surge of up to 40,000 American troops by President Barack Obama is still weeks away, the White House said. But in London the Ministry of Defence said the election was a "step forward" in fulfilling the caveats set by Gordon Brown to send an extra 500 troops to Helmand, taking the force level to 9,500 personnel.
It also appears likely that the respected governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, will be moved to another post but President Karzai has assured the British any replacement would be of the same high calibre.
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