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Updated: August 29, 2009 20:57 IST

Karzai increases lead to 46 per cent in Afghan election

AP
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Afghan incumbent President Hamid Karzai speaks to the media at a press conference in Kabul on, Thursday. Photo: AP
Afghan incumbent President Hamid Karzai speaks to the media at a press conference in Kabul on, Thursday. Photo: AP

President Hamid Karzai widened his lead in Afghanistan's presidential race as new vote tallies were released on Saturday, inching closer to the 50 percent threshold of votes he needs to avoid a run-off.

As Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission slowly releases partial results from the Aug. 20 presidential election, accusations of fraud have poured into the Electoral Complaint Commission. Videos of alleged fraud have been posted on the Internet, and Mr Karzai's top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, has made multiple complaints of

cheating.

The allegations from Mr Abdullah and other presidential candidates, along with low turnout in the violent south because of Taliban threats of violence, could strip the election of legitimacy in Afghan eyes. Security officials are monitoring tensions among Mr Abdullah supporters for any signs that the election turmoil could ignite violence.

The latest results show Mr Karzai ahead with 46.2 percent of the votes already counted against Mr Abdullah's 31.4 percent. The results are based on 35 percent of the country's polling stations, meaning they could still change dramatically. Mr Karzai must win 50 percent of ballots cast to avoid a runoff.

Final results will not be released until late September after the allegations of fraud have been investigated.

In Mr Abdullah's latest salvo against the Afghan president, he said Mr Karzai was behind ``state-crafted, massive election fraud'' and called his government ``too corrupt'' and the ``worst in the world.''

The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission has said the number of major fraud complaints that could ``materially affect'' the outcome had soared to 270.

The lengthy election process has added to strains in U.S.-Afghan relations, which had already cooled since the Obama administration took office.

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