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Afghan election body to announce final result

AFGHANISTAN'S election commission said it was assessing a fraud investigation into the country's disputed poll by a UN-backed fraud watchdog and would announce a final result on the election later today.

The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) yesterday sent its long-awaited ruling over fraud investigations into the Aug. 20 presidential poll to the country's government-appointed election commission.

"Our commissioners are meeting now to discuss the figures sent by the ECC and will announce a final decision today," Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said today.

The US group Democracy International said the ECC report showed the number of votes invalidated by the UN-backed group pushed President Hamid Karzai's total below the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off.

If the ECC probe does determine there are enough fraudulent votes to tip Karzai's vote below 50 percent, the incumbent will face a second round against his main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Karzai has indicated in private meetings this week he would be open to taking part in a run-off with Abdullah, but did not commit to a specific timetable, Western sources told Reuters.


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