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Election Officials in Afghanistan to Decide on Fraud Soon

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Election officials in Afghanistan are expected to announce in the coming days whether allegations of fraud in the presidential election could force a second round of voting.

Officials with the United Nations in Afghanistan say the election results should be announced either Saturday or Sunday.

Preliminary results from the August 20 election show Afghan President Hamid Karzai winning with 54 percent.

But the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission could discard enough ballots to drop Mr. Karzai's total below 50 percent, forcing a run-off with his leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.

U.N. spokesman in Afghanistan, Nadeem Siddique, tells VOA that representatives from the international community are in regular contact with the candidates to ensure complete transparency.

"This is an Afghan election, and it will be decided by the Afghan people. At this stage in the process, we need the mathematics to do the talking," he said.

But Abdullah says he does not trust the math. He wants a second chance.

"My preference is going for the second round. We have not dismantled the infrastructure for [a] campaign, although the campaign [would be] different this time," he said.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Abdullah rejected rumors that he and Mr. Karzai are pursuing a power-sharing deal.

A representative for Mr. Karzai also told VOA the president would not accept a coalition government.

Allegations of rampant fraud and vote-rigging have surrounded the Afghan presidential election and raised concerns about its legitimacy.

But Siddique says this election could be a major step forward for the Afghan people.

"The challenges that this country faces are huge. Time is not on our side. And it is imperative that Afghanistan gets the chance to get going to meet some of the huge challenges facing the people of this country," he said.

In the face of nearly two months of political uncertainty since the August 20 poll, the Taliban-led insurgency continues to undermine international efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan.