Recount by UN-backed watchdog ends with Afghan president’s tally falling below the 50% required for outright victory
Jon Boone in Kabul, Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Mark Tran
London Guardian 
Monday, October 19, 2009
A UN-backed election watchdog has declared invalid hundreds of thousands of votes for Afghanistan’s president in the disputed August election, apparently stripping Hamid Karzai of outright victory and setting the stage for a second round.
After nearly two months of investigations, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) – controlled by a majority of non-Afghans – found Karzai’s total had fallen to 48.3%, according to an independent analysis. He needed 50% for outright victory.
A separate election commission that backs the president will have to endorse the findings and call for a second-round vote.
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“Now that we have the ECC orders, we expect the IEC (Independent Election Commission) to implement those orders with haste and move swiftly to issue the final certified results or the need for a runoff as required by Afghan electoral law,” said Aleem Siddique, a UN spokesman in Kabul.
According to the independent analysis by the US-based Democracy International, Karzai’s share of the vote has fallen from 55% to 48.3% after fraudulent votes identified by the EEC have been stripped away. The figures confirm views expressed anonymously be several foreign diplomats and election workers that Mr Karzai’s share of the vote has dropped to around 48%.
Meanwhile, his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, gained from his preliminary tally of 28% to 31.6%.
Full story here.