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Afghanistan's Presidential Runoff Set For November 7

By Sean Maroney
20 October 2009

Afghan election officials have ordered a second round in voting after a fraud investigation into the country's August 20 presidential poll dropped President Hamid Karzai's lead below 50 percent.

President Karzai says he welcomes the decision by the country's Independent Election Commission to hold a second round of voting on November 7 between himself and top challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

He called upon the Afghan voters to come out and participate in the next round, saying this would help ensure Afghanistan's unity and stability.

President Karzai spoke Tuesday alongside visiting U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and other international officials in Kabul.

Senator Kerry praised Mr. Karzai for what he called "embracing the constitution" and moving forward with the run-off. He also pledged international support for the second round.

"The international community is 100 percent committed to helping to carry out this election," Kerry said, "NATO is committed, ISAF is committed - in every way possible in order to make the runoff a success. We know that it will be difficult and it will require sacrifice, but we are committed to this effort."

International officials in Kabul say there is a sense of urgency to proceed with the next round before the country's harsh winter limits access to certain polling stations.

Political uncertainty has reigned in Afghanistan since the election, even as Afghan and coalition forces struggle with a growing Taliban-led insurgency.

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