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Afghan Official Says Voter Fraud Probe Outcome Unclear

By VOA News
16 October 2009

An Afghan election official says it is too early to predict whether a voter fraud probe will trigger a runoff between President Hamid Karzai and his closest challenger.

A spokesman for the Afghan Election Commission, Noor Mohammad Noor, told VOA Friday a U.N.-backed panel has yet to deliver its report on the August 20 presidential vote.

On Friday, a U.S. newspaper reported that the Electoral Complaints Commission had reduced President Karzai's portion of the vote to 47 percent, less than the 50 percent he needs to win outright.

Preliminary results released last month gave Mr. Karzai 54 percent of the vote. His main challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, had 28 percent.

A U.N. spokesman told VOA Friday the investigative panel was finalizing its assessment and was expected to deliver a final report late Friday or early Saturday.

On Thursday, Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S. Said Tayeb Jawad said a runoff was a "likely scenario."

Also Thursday, Mr. Abdullah rejected rumors that he is seeking a power-sharing deal with Mr. Karzai, and the Afghan leader's aide told VOA that the president would not accept a coalition government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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