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Afghan presidential challenger talks with rivals

world Updated: Aug 22, 2009 21:21 IST

AP
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s top challenger said on Saturday that he has reached out to several other candidates, but not the incumbent, in the days since the presidential election, and that a second round of voting was likely.

If no candidate in Thursday’s poll has secured 50 per cent of the ballot, the two top will go to a runoff vote, for which they may need to muster support from rivals.

“I am in contact either directly or indirectly with most of the presidential candidates,” former Foreign Minster Abdullah Abdullah said. He would not say who he has talked to or whether any alliances have been discussed.

Both Karzai and Abdullah have claimed to be in the lead, according to their own tallies. Initial preliminary results from Afghanistan’s second-ever direct presidential elections won’t be announced until Tuesday, and final results won’t be certified until mid-September.

Taliban threats and attacks appeared to hold down turnout, especially in the south where Karzai was expected to run strongly among his fellow Pashtuns. At least 26 Afghan civilians and security forces died in dozens of militant attacks.

Monitors confirmed today that some had made good on a threat to cut off the ink-stained fingers of voters.