Afghanistan's Karzai Holds Firm Lead in Disputed Vote

Nearly complete but still preliminary - and controversial - results show Afghanistan's incumbent as the winner in the country's presidential election. However, President Hamid Karzai is going to have a difficult time claiming a legitimate victory and his closest challenger is not ready to concede.

In another trickle of preliminary results released by election commissioners, President Karzai retains his firm lead with more than 54 percent of the ballots. Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah has 28 percent. Out of the 5.8 million votes deemed valid so far, the incumbent has three million while the top challenger has just more than half that amount. Other candidates are far behind with about 95 percent of all ballots tallied.

United Nations spokesman Aleem Siddque in Kabul tells VOA News that it is premature, however, to judge the outcome.

"The game is far from over. There are no winners in this election yet. There have been over 2,000 complaints made during this electoral process. And it's imperative that those complaints are thoroughly investigated before any provisional results can be finalized," said  Siddque.

That means a resolution is weeks - or possibly, months, away. The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission may end up putting into quarantine hundreds of thousands of ballots until the major allegations stemming from the August 20 election are resolved.

Asked at a press conference in Kabul why the criteria for quarantined votes has changed from 600 per ballot box to more than 1,000,  chief electoral officer Daoud Ali Najafi says the ECC just made this decision and the Afghan government's Independent Election Commission agreed to it.

"Tomorrow morning the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and ECC will meet together to establish a procedure to implement the decision," he said.

A delay in the final vote count is raising fears of further instability in a country already divided by a Taliban insurgency and smoldering ethnic tensions.

Staying in power, at least for the mean time, is President Karzai. He enjoys support from his fellow Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group.

Abdullah, of Tajik and Pashtun descent, is backed by Tajiks.

If election authorities invalidate enough ballots to bring President Karzai's total below a majority then he and Abdullah would face each other in a run-off. But that would have to happen quickly before snow fall would make many areas inaccessible for the winter.

The political uncertainty comes as Afghanistan faces its worst violence since the invasion that ousted the Taliban in late 2001.

Officials say a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province, apparently meant to target Afghan and foreign troops, struck two passenger cars Saturday killing 14 civilians. Another such explosion in Kandahar province killed six civilians.

Also in Kandahar two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a government intelligence office killing one agent.

In the northern part of Kunduz province, the U.S. military says, an overnight raid by Afghan and coalition forces killed 11 militants who were in possession of bomb-making material and rocket-propelled grenades.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs