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Karzai Stripped Of Outright Win

Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai

A panel probing fraud claims in the Afghan election has found Hamid Karzai did not gain enough valid votes for an outright win, the BBC understands.

Preliminary results from August’s first round had placed Mr Karzai comfortably over the 50% plus one vote threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

But the BBC understands Mr Karzai’s vote share has fallen below half, after a number of votes were ruled invalid. Under poll rules, Mr Karzai now faces a runoff against rival Abdullah Abdullah.

In its much-anticipated report on Monday, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) ordered that ballots from 210 polling stations be discounted. The panel said it had found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” at the polling stations, which were across the country.

It was not clear how Mr Karzai would respond to the ECC findings, amid reports of a possible legal challenge. Initial results released last month had given him nearly 55% of votes, with former foreign minister Mr Abdullah on 28%.

The Afghan president has insisted he won the election outright, but EU observers have said as many as one in four votes cast were suspicious.

Sources have told the BBC that Mr Karzai is furious over the prospect of facing a second round. The BBC’s Martin Patience in Kabul says the Afghan leader believes an election victory has been stolen from him and he is threatening to block attempts to hold any second round.

But Washington has warned it will not send any more US troops to Afghanistan until a political resolution is reached. In the last few days Western leaders and diplomats have engaged in a rapid round of diplomacy to get Mr Karzai to accept the election results.

But our correspondent says that for now that pressure does not seem to have worked and an election that was meant to have helped stabilise Afghanistan has brought yet more uncertainty.

Source: dailyguideghana

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