Hamid Karzai wins majority of votes cast in Afghan election

October 25, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

KABUL, Afghanistan - Incumbent Hamid Karzai was on the verge of victory yesterday as final ballots were being counted in landmark presidential elections, but his main rival refused to concede defeat, maintaining allegations of fraud.

With about 95 percent of ballots counted yesterday evening, Karzai had received 55 percent of more than 8 million votes cast. His closest opponent, former education minister Yunis Qanooni, had 16 percent.

The near-complete results leave Karzai all but certain of becoming this war-torn nation's first democratically elected president. Even if Karzai received none of the remaining votes, he would still have more than the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff.

The final count is not expected until tomorrow at the earliest, more than two weeks after the Oct. 9 election.

Karzai is expected to govern with his current Cabinet until he and other members of his new government are sworn in next month. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next spring.

As Qanooni continues to protest what he has called organized fraud in the election, he appears to be maneuvering for a share of power in Karzai's new Cabinet or a run for parliament.

Even though preliminary results gave Karzai an insurmountable lead, Qanooni insisted that the race was not over.

Qanooni denied a Reuters news agency report claiming that a campaign spokesman identified as Sayed Hamid Noori said, "We will accept the vote because we do not want to drag the country into crisis."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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