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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Karzai poised for Afghan poll win
Hamid Karzai
Karzai's camp is not officially claiming victory
Hamid Karzai seems assured of victory in Afghanistan's presidential election, but a UN inquiry into vote fraud claims is delaying a formal announcement.

With under 3% of ballots left to count, Mr Karzai is on 55.5%, giving him the majority he needs to avoid a run-off.

A spokesman for his main rival, Yunus Qanuni, conceded defeat on Sunday.

Organisers will not announce a result before the last vote is counted and the probe into irregularities is completed - still several days away.

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"We're hoping it [the count] will finish tomorrow," election commission technical adviser Reg Austin told the AFP news agency.

The three-member UN panel briefed candidates on the progress of their inquiry on Monday.

Their report is not expected before the middle of the week.

We have a simple majority. This is exactly what we want
Hamid Elmi
Karzai campaign spokesman

Observers say the election was largely fair and that its result reflects what Afghans voted for.

"There were some flaws. But I very much doubt they would affect the actual outcome of the vote," Francesc Vendrell, European Union special envoy to Afghanistan, told the BBC.

Rival concedes

Mr Karzai himself has yet to comment on what looks like certain victory.

But his campaign workers believe they now have the necessary majority after two weeks of counting.

"We have a simple majority. This is exactly what we want," Mr Karzai's campaign spokesman, Hamid Elmi, told AFP.

For the national interest and so the country does not go into crisis, we will respect the result of the election
Syed Hamid Noori,
Qanuni spokesman

Figures released on Sunday by the election organisers on their website showed Mr Karzai had secured more than 50% of the estimated 8,114,071 valid votes cast in the 9 October election.

That number is based on total turnout, adjusted to account for a proportion of spoiled ballots.

Mr Qanuni, trailing 39 points behind, accepted Mr Karzai had won on Sunday.

His spokesman, Syed Hamid Noori, said: "In order to respect the nation's will, based on the numbers announced up to now, we consider Karzai the winner in the elections and he got a simple majority."

Other candidates have said they will accept the inquiry findings and respect the election result.

The election process has been largely free of the violence threatened by the country's hard-line former Taleban rulers.

However, on Saturday two people died in a rare suicide attack on a shopping street in Kabul. The bomber was also killed in the attack, which the Taleban said it had carried out.




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