AFGHANISTAN

All eyes set on final poll results

Afghanistan’s election commission is set to announce the final results of the contested Aug. 20 presidential election on Tuesday following two months of intense diplomatic wrangling over electoral irregularities.

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Exactly two months after Afghans went to the polls in what was touted as a key demonstration of the country’s democratic credentials, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission is set to announce the final results of the contested Aug. 20 presidential election. 

The announcement comes a day after the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” and ordered that ballots from 210 polling stations be discounted.

The ECC findings were submitted to the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday to discuss the findings of the report, triggering a period of intense speculation over the likelihood of a run-off vote.

Under Afghan electoral law, rulings by the ECC - which is comprised of three Afghan and three international commissioners - are final and binding.

The IEC is charged with implementing ECC orders before announcing the final poll results.

Provisional results announced last month gave Afghan President Hamid Karzai 54.6 percent of the vote while his closest rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, received 27.7 percent.

Under Afghan electoral law, a candidate requires a 50 percent majority to avoid a run-off vote.

But the ECC findings -- which followed numerous reports of widespread electoral irregularities -- have put the Afghan president under intense diplomatic pressure to concede that he did not legitimately win more than 50 percent of the vote, necessitating a run-off.

Karzai likely to make an announcement

International pressure on Karzai mounted over the weekend when White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel warned that it would be "irresponsible" to send more troops to Afghanistan before the election crisis was resolved.

His warnings were echoed by US Senator John Kerry, who is currently visiting Afghanistan and has been holding meetings with Karzai, according to senior Western diplomatic sources.

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Karzai is widely expected to address the issue later on Tuesday amid mounting reports that he will accept a run-off.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expected word from Karzai on Tuesday and hoped for a quick solution.

"(...) I am encouraged at the direction that the situation is moving," she said. "I am very hopeful that we will see a resolution in line with the constitutional order in the next several days."

On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also added to the chorus of international calls for a run-off. “Having a second round seems to me to be very important, because it's a proof of democracy,” said Kouchner.

 

 

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