Friday, August 21, 2009

Afghanistan: Karzai, Abdullah claim victory

Campaign teams for the two leading Afghan presidential candidates are both claiming victory in the country's second-ever presidential election.

Incumbent President Hamid Karzai's campaign chief Deen Mohammad said that initial results show Mr. Karzai with a substantial lead and that a run-off vote will not be necessary.

But a spokesman for former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah - considered by observers to be Mr. Karzai's closest challenger - dismissed the claim and said Abdullah had a definitive edge in the vote count..

Afghanistan's Independent Election Committee (IEC) said all the presidential ballots had been counted but refused to confirm either claim, urging the candidates to wait for the release of official results.

Millions of Afghans braved the threat of Taliban attacks to vote Thursday. Violence in Kabul, Kandahar, and other major cities killed at least 26 people.

IEC Deputy Chief Zekria Barakzai said Friday that 40 to 50 percent of eligible Afghan voters went to the polls.