19 Sep 2009

Karzai has majority - for now

8:16 pm on 19 September 2009

The preliminary results in Afghanistan's fraud-tainted presidential election give the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, 54.6% of the vote.

The result - which is not final until a recount ordered by a fraud watchdog has been completed - shows Mr Karzai has the majority needed to avoid a run-off. His nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has 28% of the vote.

If fraud investigations cause Mr Karzai's vote to drop below 50%, there would have to be a second round of voting.

The Independent Election Commission has also announced that the turn-out in the controversial election was 38.7%. The figure confirms widespread fears that a concerted and violent campaign by Taliban-linked insurgents would deter people from voting.

The poor turn-out also raises questions about the credibility of the process and the legitimacy of the eventual victor. European Union observers say they have doubts about a quarter of the six million votes cast in the election.