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HomeNewsWorldAfghanistan Presidential Election Headed For Runoff After Abdullah Barely Misses 50%

Afghanistan Presidential Election Headed For Runoff After Abdullah Barely Misses 50%

Afghanistan presidential election
Afghanistan presidential election

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah at his residence in Kabul, Afghanistan. Abdullah finished first in the Afghanistan presidential election with 44.9 percent of the vote. (Photo: AP)

After getting a chance to vote nationwide for the first time in 13 years, voters in the Afghanistan presidential election will have to be satisfied with a “to be continued” resolution. Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, by far, received the most votes but failed to reach the 50 percent threshold to outright win on Saturday, the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani confirmed.

Abdullah, 54, earned 44.9 percent of the vote, which was significantly more than ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who took second with 31.5 percent of the vote. Though the results are preliminary, they will be finalized on May 14, only after investigations into voter fraud complaints. A total of 6.9 million votes have been counted by the election commission, Nouristani said. But he said the election commission needed to examine ballots in 444 polling stations, which roughly translates into more than 200,000 votes, because of allegations of fraud.

The runoff is scheduled to be held within 15 days of the final results.

The winner will replace President Hamid Karzai, who is the only president Afghans have known since the United States toppled the Taliban in the 2001 invasion. As a testament to Karzai’s unpopularity, Zalmai Rassoul, who was Karzai’s chose candidate and a foreign minister to the soon-to-be president, failed to earn enough votes to qualify to be included in the runoff.

Ahmadzai and Abdullah were the front-runners throughout the campaign, while Ahmadzai was a World Bank executive. Abdullah, on the other hand, stood as the opposition leader against all of the perceived corruption. Whomever the winner turns out to be will have a short honeymoon, to be sure. There are vast challenges ahead for the Afghan people.

U.S.-Afghan relations have deteriorated significantly, with a flailing foreign policy from the White House that apparently Obama didn’t even believe in, and an increasingly unstable Karzai becoming more and more difficult to keep relations with. Karzai is constitutionally barred from seeking another term as president. However, both Abdullah and Ahmadzai promised a new beginning with the West, vowing they will go forward with the proposed security pact with the U.S. that was stalled after Karzai refused to sign it.

That pact, which was quickly approved by the council of 3,000 prominent Afghans, known as the Loya Jirga, would allow a small force of American soldiers to stay in the country while training the Afghan army and police.

In 2009, both Ahmadzai and Abdullah lost to Hamid Karzai, though Abdullah finished second.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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