WASHINGTON (CNN) - A runoff election between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, appears likely, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States said Thursday.
Ambassador Said Jawad told an audience at the U.S. Institute for Peace that a runoff is "a likely scenario." Jawad is the first member of Karzai's government to say publicly that a runoff is probable.
Election officials in Afghanistan are expected to announce in coming days whether allegations of fraud in the disputed August 20 presidential election will force a second round of voting.
Preliminary results of the August election showed Karzai winning with 54 percent, but a U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission could discard enough ballots to drop Karzai's total below 50 percent, forcing a runoff.
The runoff, Jawad stressed, would have to be held quickly. He said a two-week deadline, as spelled out in the Afghan constitution, would be "impossible," but added that the voting should be held in either late October or early November. The final vote tally would be expected two weeks later.
If the election were not held by early November, he said, winter weather would make voting impossible and force a delay until spring of 2010. Such a delay, he warned, would be a "recipe for disaster" that would create confusion in Afghanistan and heighten tension between the United States and Karzai's government.
Afterward, Jawad told CNN such a delay would mean Afghanistan would be without a legitimate government for many months, preventing the country from working closely with the United States as President Barack Obama weighs a greater troop commitment to the country.
A runoff and uncertainty over the new Afghan government could delay a decision by Obama on whether to send as many as 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Administration officials have said that the lack of a strong, reliable Afghan partner would be a major factor in the administration's decision on what course the overall U.S. strategy in Afghanistan should follow.
Liz Cheney should run there. There is a lot of corruption that could help her.
I wonder how much pressure has been put on Karzai to make this run off a priority. no one should jump to conclusions about what is going on behind the scenes as the strategies for Afghanistan are being developed!
I didnt know that ACORN had a role in rigging the afghan elections just like here in the U.S.
Who cares. It mesans absolutely nothing who runs this country. Never has and never will.
I noticed people were commenting on how bad Obama was to give Pakistan $7.5 billion over 7 years. Folks, we are spending over $10 Billion a month on Iraq and Afghanistan and you are all nodding your head slack-jawed about how Obama has to send more troops? Which is it – the "conservative" view that money doesn't matter we have to spend anything it takes to fight terrorism or, is it the "conservative" view that we should not spend money we don't have. Until the "conservative" hypocrisy gets under control, keep your criticism of Obama to yourself.
Holy mackerel, The Iraqi complain because we interfere in their institutions, and now it's Afghanistan ?
Why don't we come home and take care of ourselves ?
why does not our president run for that post also, ruin their country as well.