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Karzai leads; EU casts doubt on polls

world Updated: Sep 17, 2009 01:23 IST
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Afghanistan’s election commission released preliminary vote totals on Wednesday showing President Hamid Karzai with 54.6 per cent of the vote in the first full results to be released since the country’s August 20 election.

The election still has not been certified as final, though.

A UN-backed complaints commission is examining thousands of potentially fraudulent ballots. If the commission invalidates enough votes, Karzai’s returns could drop below 50 per cent, forcing him into a two-man runoff with top challenger Abdullah Abdullah, who has 27.7 per cent of the vote.

A European Union team, meanwhile, said that about 1.5 million ballots of the 5.6 million cast have indications of fraud, using indicators such as overly high turnout or a preponderance of votes for one candidate.

Final, certified results cannot be released until all investigations, audits and recounts are finished, meaning results from the fraud-tainted election are likely weeks away.

Full preliminary numbers show turnout was 38 per cent, a much lower than the 70 per cent turnout in 2004.