Afghan president Karzai widens lead in early voting count

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hamid Karzai in 2006
Image: Paul Morse, Executive Office of the President of the United States.

Afghanistan's election commission has said that President Hamid Karzai has augmented his lead over his main rival in the Afghan presidential elections, Abdullah Abdullah.

The chief electroral officer of the Independent Election Commission, Daud Najafi, said that out of 998,484 votes counted so far, Karzai obtained 422,137 and Abdullah 330,751.

The preliminary results, based on 17% of polling stations country-wide, give Karzai 42.3% of the ballot, compared to Abdullah's 33.1%. The gap has increased since Tuesday, when the incumbent only had a two percent advantage over Abdullah.

Karzai needs to take at least fifty percent of the vote in order to avoid a run-off election with Abdullah.

The remainder of the ballots went mainly to Kabul lawmaker Ramazan Bashardost, with 108,156 votes, and a former economist for the World Bank, Ashraf Ghani, who took 27,697.

Final election results are not expected to come in until mid-September.


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