Afghanistan to have election run-off on Nov 7

KABUL: Afghanistan will hold a second round of its presidential election on November 7 after incumbent Hamid Karzai failed to win a clear majority in the fraud-tainted contest, officials said Tuesday.

“The election has gone to a second round. On November 7 it will be re-held,” Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesman for the Independent Election Commission told the media.

Exactly two months on from polls that Karzai had been expected to win easily, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) confirmed that he had fallen short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off against his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

“This is not the right time to discuss investigations, this is the time to move forward to stability and national unity,” Karzai said.

The announcement came a day after an inquiry by a UN-backed watchdog confirmed staggering levels of fraud in the August 20 vote, declaring more than one million ballots suspect — a quarter of the total cast.

An election official confirmed that from a preliminary tally of 55 percent, Karzai’s share of the first-round vote had now fallen to 49.67 percent.

Karzai had initially dismissed allegations of widespread fraud as fabricated, he is that convinced he had won a clear victory, but international pressure has been mounting in recent weeks.

Tuesday’s announcement seemed to nix suggestions that Karzai could join forces with Abdullah, his former foreign minister, in a government of national unity.

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