Afghanistan's interim President Hamid Karzai holds an insurmountable lead over his rivals with almost all of the votes now counted from the country's historic election on 9 October, the United Nations-Afghan body charged with supervising the poll process announced today.
With more than 97 per cent of ballots counted, the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) said Mr. Karzai had won 55.5 per cent of the vote so far, or at least 4.3 million of the nearly 8 million valid votes tallied.
His nearest rival, Yonous Qanooni, has won 16.2 per cent, followed by Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq (11.6 per cent) and Abdul Rashid Dostum (10.2 per cent). None of the other 14 candidates for president have won more than 1.2 per cent each.
Ballot counting in what has been Afghanistan's first free and fair election for president in its history is expected to finish in the next few days. The JEMB is likely to confirm the results after that.
Meanwhile, the panel of independent electoral experts investigating complaints of irregularities in the 9 October poll has agreed to release most of the ballot boxes it had initially isolated for further checks, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters today in Kabul. The panel said it was still quarantining some boxes for further checks.
Tomorrow panel members will meet with representatives of the candidates to discuss their work so far. The panel was expected to present its findings and recommendations to JEMB later today.
JEMB commissioners have also been visiting the regional vote-counting centres across Afghanistan to verify the counting process. Teams have already inspected the centres in Kabul, Jalalabad, Bamiyan, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, while visits to Kunduz and Gardez are scheduled for later this week.