Afghan election goes to run-off

KABUL: Afghanistan will hold a second round of its presidential election on 7 November, poll officials say.

The run-off will take place between President Hamid Karzai and his main rival Abdullah


The news comes a day after an UN-backed

panel said it had clear evidence of fraud in August’s first round, lowering Karzai’s vote share below 50 per cent.

Initial results suggested Karzai had received 55% of the vote, and ex-Foreign Minister Mr Abdullah 28 per cent. But the panel, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), ordered that ballots from 210 polling stations be discounted.

One poll monitoring group said this meant that Karzai’s total was reduced to below the 50% plus one vote required for outright victory, indicating a second round was needed.

Karzai said at a news conference announcing the run-off that he accepted the ECC findings. He said that the decision was legal and constitutional, and a “step forward” for Afghan democracy. “This is not the right time to discuss investigations, this is the time to move forward to stability and national unity,” he added. “I call upon our nation to change this into an opportunity to strengthen our resolve and determination, to move our country forward and to participate in the new round of elections.”