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September 9, 2009

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Karzai gets 54% of vote

AFGHAN President Hamid Karzai surpassed for the first time the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off in Afghanistan's presidential election, according to preliminary results released yesterday, but with fraud allegations rising, a United Nations-backed commission ordered a re-count of tainted ballots.

The chief electoral officer of the Afghan-run Independent Election Commission, Daoud Ali Najafi, said that recounting votes could take "two or three months," meaning the over-extended election is likely far from over.

With results in from almost 92 percent of the country's polling sites, Karzai has 54.1 percent of the votes, pushing him over the threshold that would allow him to declare victory outright and avoid a run-off with his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.

But the Afghan-run election commission has already quarantined ballots from more than 600 polling stations ruled to have been spoiled or tainted by fraud, and the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission ordered a re-count yesterday at polling stations where it had found "convincing evidence" of fraud.


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