Aug. 20: Presidential candidate and current President Hamid Karzai casts his vote at a polling station in Kabul.
KABUL — President Hamid Karzai widened his lead in Afghanistan's presidential race as new vote tallies were released Saturday, inching closer to the 50 percent threshold of votes he needs to avoid a run-off.
As Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission slowly releases partial results from the Aug. 20 presidential election, accusations of fraud have poured into the Electoral Complaint Commission. Videos of alleged fraud have been posted on the Internet, and Karzai's top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, has made multiple complaints of cheating.
The allegations from Abdullah and other presidential candidates, along with low turnout in the violent south because of Taliban threats of violence, could strip the election of legitimacy in Afghan eyes. Security officials are monitoring tensions among Abdullah supporters for any signs that the election turmoil could ignite violence.
The latest results show Karzai ahead with 46.2 percent of the votes already counted against Abdullah's 31.4 percent. The results are based on 35 percent of the country's polling stations, meaning they could still change dramatically. Karzai must win 50 percent of ballots cast to avoid a runoff.
Final results will not be released until late September after the allegations of fraud have been investigated.