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Runoff Expected In Afghan Election: Report

Afghan ambassador to the United States, Said Jawad
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- An investigation into fraud in Afghanistan's election has cut President Hamid Karzai's vote tally to about 47 percent, a result that will trigger a runoff, "The Washington Post" reported on October 16.

Citing officials familiar with the results, the newspaper said the tally by the independent Electoral Complaints Commission was due to be finalized on October 16.

Preliminary election results issued on October 13 gave Karzai more than 54 percent of valid votes tallied, putting him above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff with his closest rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

But Afghanistan's ambassador in Washington, Said Jawad, said on October 15 that a second round of voting was "likely," the "Post" reported.

In a "New York Times" interview published on October 15, the ambassador said Karzai's government was preparing for the electoral commission to announce on October 17 a runoff was necessary.

Citing a U.S. official in Afghanistan, the "Post" reported that ballots listing both Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah were printed in London in anticipation of a runoff and have arrived at the United Nations' mission in Kabul.

The inconclusive August election, where widespread fraud was reported, is a factor in the Obama administration's current review of its strategy in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has recommended deploying an additional 40,000 U.S. troops, beyond the 68,000 due to be in place by the end of this year.