Karzai, Rival Both Claim Victory
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2009 5:09 AM CDT
Supporters of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, seen in poster at right, attend a campaign rally in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
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(Newser) – As Afghanistan gets down to the difficult job of counting ballots from 6,200 polling stations, both Hamid Karzai and his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah havd claimed victory in the presidential race. No confirmed results have been released, but a Karzai staffer said reports from election monitors indicate that the president has been re-elected in the first round. Abdullah dismissed that, telling Reuters: "I have more than 50% of the vote."

Officials from the independent body monitoring yesterday's elections said it had reservations about the quality of the vote amid reports of voter intimidation and bias among election officials. They also claimed that only a fraction of the women-only polling stations opened, and men were seen voting for women. Turnout at the polls is estimated to be between 40% and 50%, in line with western estimates.