Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his main rival Abdullah Abdullah have both claimed victory in the country’s second post-Taliban election.
Both camps believe they have won enough votes to avoid a potentially destablising second round in October. Election officials say no results have been announced and Washington’s chief envoy urged candidates not the speculate on the outcome. Despite election day being relatively calm there are reports of “serious problems” from observers though the election is considered credible. Abdullah Abdullah believes the vote was tainted: “A lot of irregularities which have taken place should have been prevented and shouldn’t have happened, so there are a lot of complaints about irregularities throughout the country. There are reports of rigging.” Afghan and international forces suspended “offensive operations”, but attacks against them continued. Three US troops were killed in a roadside bomb and mortar attacks in the east and two British soldiers died in an explosion in southern Helmand. Fears persist that uncertainty over the outcome and claims of widespread fraud could lead to civil unrest in a country for which violence is never far away.