» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

Karzai's Lead Widens in Afghan Race

Afghanistan's voters went to the polls on Aug. 20, 2009, for the nation's second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Two months later, Afghanistan's election commission ordered a runoff election for Nov. 7 after a fraud investigation invalidated nearly a million of President Hamid Karzai's votes.
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
By Heidi Vogt
Associated Press
Thursday, August 27, 2009

KABUL, Aug. 26 -- President Hamid Karzai extended his lead over his top challenger in Afghanistan's presidential election, new results showed Wednesday, but he remains short of the 50 percent threshold that would allow him to avoid a two-man runoff.

This Story

Afghan election officials are slowly releasing results from last Thursday's election, but final certified results will not be ready until at least mid-September, after fraud complaints have been investigated.

Low voter turnout and the fraud allegations have cast a pall over the vote, seen as critical to efforts to stabilize the country, which is beset by Taliban insurgents and doubts over its fragile democracy. Top challenger Abdullah Abdullah has accused Karzai of widespread cheating, including ballot stuffing and voter intimidation; Karzai's camp has denied the accusations.

The latest returns boost Karzai's standing to 44.8 percent. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, has 35.1 percent. The count is based on returns from 17 percent of polling stations nationwide, meaning the results could still change dramatically. Tuesday's returns had Abdullah trailing by two percentage points.

Although millions of Afghans voted, apathy and fear of insurgent attacks kept turnout low compared with the nation's first direct presidential election, in 2004, which was swept by Karzai.

This summer has been Afghanistan's most violent since the 2001 U.S. invasion. President Obama ordered an additional 21,000 troops to the country this year, in part to help secure the elections. But violence has continued to rise.

NATO said two U.S. troops died Wednesday in separate attacks.

Late Wednesday, a rocket exploded in the southern city of Kandahar, causing no casualties but setting a wood shop on fire, police said. The attack occurred a day after a huge bombing in Kandahar killed at least 43 people and wounded 65.



» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

More World Coverage

Foreign Policy

Partner Site

Your portal to global politics, economics and ideas.

facebook

Connect Online

Share and comment on Post world news on Facebook and Twitter.

day in photos

Day in Photos

Today's events from around the world, captured in photographs.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company