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Western envoys: Expect run-off in Afghanistan election

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PARIS – Western envoys to Afghanistan meeting here Wednesday praised the Afghan people for holding the crucial Aug. 20 presidential election during war. But they also said the West should “be prepared for a run-off” if too many votes are ruled “irregular,” as Kai Eide, the top United Nations envoy for Afghanistan, put it in a separate interview.

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be held. The latest results show that incumbent president Hamid Karzai has  47.3 percent of the vote with more than 60 percent of the ballots counted.

The meeting of German, French, British, UN, and US envoys to Afghanistan was regarded as a show of unity and support in the midst of an Afghan mission seen as unpopular in Europe and dubbed by some US media as “Mr. Obama’s war.”

In European circles, the meeting was also seen as an effort to pressure Afghan President Karzai in the wake of some 1,000 complaints of ballot stuffing and fraud now under review, and to garner support for US efforts to target of irregular election behavior and corruption. Hosted by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the gathering also included British envoy Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Germany’s Bernd Mutzelburg, US envoy Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Eide of the UN, and 22 other representatives.


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