10/20/2009, 00.00
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New Afghan elections in 14 days

Karzai and Abdullah to square off in a runoff election after fraud was uncovered in many polling stations. Karzai expresses hope this time voters will come out and vote in greater numbers. The security problem persists however.
Kabul (AsiaNews) – Afghanistan will hold another round of presidential election 14 days from now. The runoff will take place between President Hamid Karzai and his main rival Abdullah Abdullah. The announcement was made today at 4.40 pm (local time) by President Karzai and election officials.

The decision comes after an UN-backed panel said it had clear evidence of fraud in at least 210 polling stations during the first round of polling in August.

Initial results suggested Mr Karzai had received 55 per cent of the vote, and ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah 28 per cent.

With ballots from these stations discounted, Karzai’s vote drops by almost a million, to 48 per cent of the vote, not enough for an outright win.

The incumbent president said this time he hoped turnout would improve. In the first round, it had fallen to 50 per cent, down from 70 per cent in 2004. The drop was attributed to the lack of security in the country and the Taliban threat.

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