August 27, 2009 in Nation/World

Karzai extends lead in Afghan vote count

Associated Press
 

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai has extended his lead over his top challenger in Afghanistan’s presidential election under the latest vote results released, but remains short of the 50 percent he needs to avoid a two-man runoff.

Afghan election officials are slowly releasing results from last week’s presidential election, and final certified results will not be ready until at least mid-September.

Low voter turnout and the fraud allegations have cast a pall over the vote, seen as critical to efforts to stabilize the country.

Top challenger Abdullah Abdullah has accused Karzai of widespread rigging, including ballot stuffing and voter intimidation, claims Karzai’s camp has denied.

The latest returns released Wednesday boost Karzai’s standing to 44.8 percent. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, now has 35.1 percent. The count is based on returns from 17 percent of polling stations nationwide, meaning the results could still change dramatically. Tuesday’s returns had Abdullah trailing Karzai by just 3 percent.

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