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Afghan fraud panel voids thousands of votes – Karzai appears set to accept runoff

Under growing international pressure, Hamid Karzai appears ready to accept he did not reach the 50% mark in the first round of his country's disputed presidential election. Officials said Karzai was moving toward accepting the findings of an international audit that stripped him of nearly a third of his votes in the first round. Investigators rejected hundreds of thousands of ballots in Afghanistan's August presidential election, setting the stage for a runoff between Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah. The UN fraud panel released results after two months of examination that would drop Karzai below the 50% threshold, triggering the run-off.  However, Afghan officials responsible for declaring the results so far refused to accept the UN panel. Sounds suspiciously like Florida in 2000… Earlier it was understood that Karzai might reject the runoff even after the figures were announced - further snarling chances for the credible government the US believes crucial to combat the Taliban. Yet other Karzai supporters around the country had demanded release of the results and rejected a second round of voting, in advance. Meanwhile, the White House says Obama was not going to send more troops until a credible government was in place. The French FM and US Senator Kerry were in Kabul over the weekend, both pushing Afghans to end the standoff.

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