A U.N.-backed commission Tuesday ordered a recount of tainted ballots from the Afghan presidential vote, saying it had “convincing evidence of fraud,” even as President Hamid Karzai for the first time surpassed the threshold needed to avoid a runoff and win re-election.
Doubts are growing about the Aug. 20 election’s credibility, a key step in U.S. and European efforts to strengthen the Afghan government and bolster declining support for the almost eight-year war against a spreading Taliban insurgency.
The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, an independent body with the power to investigate and nullify fraudulent votes, ordered a recount Tuesday at polling stations where it had found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud.”
That means Karzai could still have votes taken away from him. More than 720 major fraud charges have been lodged with the complaints commission.
Officially certified results were due by late September.
With results in from almost 92 percent of the country’s polling sites, Karzai has 54.1 percent of the votes, pushing him over the threshold that would allow him to declare victory outright and avoid a runoff with his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.