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KABUL – Afghanistan's election commission Tuesday ordered a Nov. 7 runoff in the disputed presidential poll after a fraud investigation dropped incumbent Hamid Karzai's votes below 50 percent of the total. Karzai accepted the finding and agreed to a second round vote.
The announcement came two months to the day after the first round vote and follows weeks of political uncertainty at a time when Taliban strength is growing.
In his own remarks, Karzai emphasized the need for security.
"I hope that the international community and the Afghan government and all others concerned will take every possible measure to provide security to the people so that when they vote, that vote is not called a fraud," Karzai said.
The August poll was characterized by Taliban attacks on polling stations and government buildings that killed dozens of people. In some areas, militants cut off the ink-marked fingers of people who had voted.
Taliban threats dampened turnout in the first round and many say even fewer people would come out in a runoff. This time, there will be no provincial elections on the same ballot to increase turnout.