Karzai’s vote shrinks, but he still leads in Afghan election

Kabul, Aug 31 (DPA) Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s share of the vote in the hotly disputed Aug 20 presidential election shrank to 45.9 percent Monday, but still ahead of his nearest challenger by more than 12 percent, according to official figures.

Figures posted on the Independent Election Commission’s website showed that former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah garnered 33.3 percent of vote with ballots tallied from 47.8 percent of polling centres in the country.

At the beginning of the vote count last Tuesday, partial results were showing a neck-and-neck race between Karzai and Abdullah as most of the votes counted came from northern and northwestern regions, the main political power base for Abdullah.

But the incumbent’s lead has been on the rise as more votes poured in from the southern and eastern regions, the main Pashtun-dominated areas from which Karzai draws his support.

Third-place candidate, former planning minister Ramazan Bashardost, has garnered 12.5 percent of the vote, a one-percent decline since the last partial results announced Saturday, in which Karzai got 46.3 percent of the vote, compared to 31.4 percent obtained by Abdullah.

Should the leader of the race not reach an absolute majority, a second round of voting will take place in October between the first-and second-place candidates. A preliminary result is expected next week, but an official result will not be available before mid-September.