Kabul — An Afghan cabinet minister said Monday that President Hamid Karzai won Thursday’s presidential election with an overwhelming majority of 68 percent. If confirmed, such a result would eliminate the need for a runoff election in October between Karzai and his top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, but could raise questions about the vote’s credibility.
Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwol, citing partial and unpublished vote tallies, told journalists at a dinner that support for Karzai was high enough across the nation to cancel out the problem of low voter turnout in the south. Insurgent violence there prevented many people from voting, and there have been widespread accusations of fraud.
Pre-election polls suggested that Karzai, whose base is in the south, would win a high plurality of the vote but not reach the 50.1 percent required to win in the first round. They showed that Abdullah, a former foreign minister, would probably win at least 25 percent. Abdullah charged Sunday that Karzai’s supporters and government officials had conducted “heavy rigging” of the elections.