A run-off vote to settle Afghanistan’s disputed election result is now “likely” according to the country’s ambassador to the United States.
Initial results gave President Hamid Karzai an outright victory but the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission has been auditing about 10 percent of votes cast, which could cut the President’s vote tally to 47 percent, enough to trigger a second round. The preliminary results gave Karzai more than 54 percent of the vote with his nearest rival Abdullah Abdullah on 28 percent. Abdullah said he hopes enough votes will be questioned to reduce Karzai’s share to below 50 per cent. “We are ready”, he said, “and I have not dismantled the infrastructure of our campaign though the campaign will be different this time. And in any circumstances I will pursue that agenda for change, that will be the basis of any decision post-announcement.” Speaking at th US Institute for Peace in Washington, US Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad said a run-off was a “likely scenario”. He is the first Karzai aide to have made such a statement. However, analysts believe it would not be possible to carry out a run-off vote within the two-week limit required by the constitution. Any later and the vote would have to be held in freezing conditions as the Afghan winter closes in.