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Afghanistan's Interim President Appears Headed for Election Victory - 2004-10-20


With more than 50 percent of the votes counted, Afghanistan's interim President Hamid Karzai appears to be on his way to winning Afghanistan's first direct presidential election.

Mr. Karzai has a commanding 59.8 percent of the vote -- far ahead of second-placed Yunus Qanuni who has 17.2 percent. Mr. Karzai needs just over 50 percent of the votes to avoid a runoff.

A U.N. sponsored international conference chose Mr. Karzai to head an interim government set up after U.S. and Afghan resistance forces overthrew the Taleban in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Afghanistan says Taleban leader Mullah (Mohammed) Omar has lost the confidence of his commanders because the Taleban's failure to disrupt this month's presidential election led to an internal split.

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