The UN-backed Independent Election Commission has announced the latest results of Afghanistan's presidential election. With 91.6 percent of votes counted, President Hamid Karzai has an absolute majority of 54.1 percent.
Fraud claims could force a runoff for Karzai
This is the first time that the figures show that President Hamid Karzai has enough votes to win in a single round and avoid a runoff poll. Figures released by Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) give Karzai a commanding lead with 54.1 percent, with 91.6 percent of all votes counted so far. Karzai's nearest rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, is well behind with 28.3 percent.
Nearly 5.5 million valid votes have been counted so far, the IEC said. Karzai has 2,959,093 votes against Abdullah's 1,546,490, the electoral commission announced at a news conference on Tuesday.
The electoral commission announced on Sunday that it had discarded around 200,000 ballots from 447 polling sites nationally where it had found vote fraud.
Partial recount ordered
On Tuesday, the UN-backed independent Election Complaints Commission (ECC) said it too had clear evidence of fraud in the election. The body said it received more than 2,000 complaints, about a third of which could impact the final result.
"In the course of its investigations, the Election Complaints Commission has found clear and convincing evidence of fraud in a number of polling stations," the ECC said in a statement. It did not say which candidate gained from the fraud, or where the suspicious ballots had been cast.
Afghans voted amid Taliban threats of violence
The ECC has ordered the electoral commission to review votes from 600 more polling stations. These include stations where a single candidate received more than 95 percent of the votes and those where more than 600 votes were cast, the most that could be cast a single station. Polling stations with suspiciously high voter participation, given a turnout of just 30 to 35 percent, are also to be reviewed.
The low turnout, accredited to Taliban voter intimidation and violence, is also threatening to cast doubt on the credibility of the process and the legitimacy of the winner.
Preliminary results from 100 percent of votes cast across the country are expected to be announced on Thursday. Karzai must have 50 percent of all ballots cast, plus one extra ballot, to be declared the winner. Final official results are not due before Sept. 17.
Editor: Nancy Isenson