commission office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan
KABUL - President Hamid Karzai extended his lead over his top challenger in Afghanistan's presidential election, new vote results showed Wednesday, but remains short of the 50 percent threshold that would allow him to avoid a two-man runoff.
Afghan election officials are slowly releasing results from last week's presidential election, and final certified results will not be ready until at least mid-September, after dozens of serious complaints of fraud 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 wracked by Taliban insurgents and doubts over its fragile democracy. Top challenger Abdullah Abdullah has accused Karzai of widespread rigging, including ballot stuffing and voter intimidation, claims Karzai's camp has denied.
The latest returns boost Karzai's standing to 44.8 percent.
Abdullah, a former foreign minister, now 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 Karzai by just 3 percent. Read more here ...