Karzai widens lead

KABUL: Incumbent Hamid Karzai today pulled further ahead of his main rival in the race for the Afghan presidency, based on the latest results unveiled by the country’s election commission.

Total results released so far come from 35 per cent of polling stations used in only Afghanistan’s second direct presidential election, which was held on August 20 and has been overshadowed by claims of massive fraud.

Out of 2.32 million valid votes counted, Karzai won 940,558 and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah 638,924, Daud Najafi, chief electoral officer at the Independent Election Commission, told a news conference.

Those results handed Karzai 40.5 per cent of votes announced and Abdullah 27.5 per cent, widening the incumbent’s previous lead of around nine per cent.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Afghanistan today, where he pledged to speed up the training of Afghan security forces.