Under U.S. Pressure, Karzai To Accept Run-Off Election

Under heavy pressure from the Obama administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears set to concede today that he fell short of a first-round victory in the nation’s disputed presidential election. But the path to resolving the political crisis remains uncertain. Officials said Karzai was moving toward accepting the findings of a United Nations audit that stripped him of nearly a third of his votes. This leaves Karzai below the 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a runoff and declare victory over his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. The New York Times reports some Obama administration officials are now quietly pushing for Karzai and Abdullah to form a coalition government to avoid a runoff altogether. Earlier today Abdullah called for the formation of an interim government to shepherd the country through the winter if it’s too difficult or dangerous to organize a runoff in the coming weeks. Meanwhile the Times of London reports Afghanistan's security chiefs have been ordered to make emergency preparations for a second round of voting. United Nations spokesperson Aleem Seddique said the international community is ready to assist with the run-off.

Aleem Seddique: "Preparations are already well underway for a run-off, all the voting materials that are required to conduct a run-off are now in country, distribution will begin next week if the Independent Election Commission announces the need for a run-off, so on the part of the United Nations we are standing ready to assist the electoral authority of this country to conduct that run-off, if it's required."

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