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Karzai, Abdullah Virtually Even in Afghan Vote


Afghanistan's Independent Election Commissionsays President Hamid Karzai and his main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, are running neck-and-neck (almost even) in the first returns from last week's presidential election.

The first partial election results Tuesday, based on 10 percent of votes counted, give Mr. Karzai a slight lead with 40.6 percent against 38.7 percent for Mr. Abdullah.

The commission's spokesman (Nur Mohammad Nur) told VOA the results do not give any candidate a basis to declare victory.

Election officials said they will release more partial tallies each day this week. Final results are expected September 3.

In other news Tuesday, Mr. Abdullah claimed he has videotape and documents showing widespread fraud in the polls.

He said there were "millions" of fake ballots cast last Thursday and urged his followers to remain calm and not resort to violence.

Six presidential candidates have warned fraud claims threaten to undermine the election and could trigger more violence in the war-torn country.

One of the disgruntled contenders (former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani) alleged gunmen told people to vote for Mr. Abdullah, and Afghan officials stuffed ballot boxes with votes favoring President Karzai.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held.

VOA Bangla Service Broadcaster Sarkar Kabirudddin has interviewed BRAC Country Head in Afghanistan , Fazlul Haque about the situation on the ground.

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