Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Karzai edges ahead in Afghan poll

initial counting from Afghanistan’s presidential election shows incumbent Hamid Karzai with a slight lead.

With 10% of the ballots counted, the election commission said Mr Karzai had 212,927 votes, compared to 202,889 for ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

However, there remain many allegations of fraud, and the commission is investigating almost 800 complaints.

Final results are not expected for several weeks. A candidate needs more than 50% of votes to avoid a run-off.

Shortly after the figures were announced, reports came in of a large explosion in the southern city of Kandahar, followed by gunfire. There were reports of casualties but no further details.

‘Too early to call’

The Independent Election Commission said that so far 524,444 valid votes had been counted, with Mr Karzai on 40.6% and Mr Abdullah on 38.7%.
Ramazan Bashardost has 53,740 votes so far and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is fourth on 15,143.

Only 2% of votes in Kandahar province have been counted and none in Helmand. Mr Karzai is expected to do well in both southern provinces.

electiongraph

Other leading candidates: Ramazan Bashardost 53,740 (10.2%) Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai 15,143 (2.9%) Winning candidate needs more than 50% of votes to avoid a run-off

The commission says it will release more results over the next few days.

Before the announcement of the first results, Mr Abdullah called on Afghans to react calmly.

“I’m urging Afghans… to be patient and to show responsibility. I think that the people don’t want to resort to violence,” he said.

Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said on Tuesday the initial results were not conclusive.

“You don’t call it with 10%… it’s too early to call,” he said.

The BBC’s Ian Pannell in Kabul says any preliminary claims about the result must be viewed with caution in the light of the allegations of fraud, corruption and ballot-stuffing and concerns about low voter turnout, especially in the south.

The election commission is also being urged to wait until the official adjudicators, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), completes its investigation.

There are almost 800 complaints of fraud and irregularities and, out of these, 54 are considered to be very serious.

Mr Abdullah has said that he has evidence that voting was widely rigged in favour of Mr Karzai. Mr Abdullah said he had submitted the allegations to the ECC.

Another leading presidential candidate, Mirwais Yasini, told the BBC that workers from his campaign discovered about 800 ballots with ticks next to his name thst he believes had been discarded from the ballot box.

The evidence has been handed to the ECC.

Afghan and Western officials have declared last Thursday’s poll a success, despite concerns about the turnout, especially in the insurgency-wracked south.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said there were more than 400 insurgent attacks on election day, which would make it one of the most violent days in Afghanistan since 2001.

Mr Holbrooke said on Sunday that allegations of fraud were to be expected.

Story from BBC NEWS: