Karzai could face run-off

A US-funded poll has indicated that Hamid Karzai, the incumbent Afghan president, might not gain enough votes in the elections on August 20 to avoid a second run-off.

Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai

The presidential election is scheduled to be held on August 20, 2009. This will be the country’s second democratic election.

The previous election in 2004 was won by President Hamid Karzai, who is running for re-election. On the same day, provincial councils will be elected.

On March 11, 2009, NATO officials announced that 15.6 million voters had registered to vote, roughly half of the country’s population. 35 to 38 percent of the registered voters were women.

These registration numbers have been disputed, however, by the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan and media reports, which suggest some fraudulent activity in the registration process.

The Taliban called for a boycott of the election, describing it as a “program of the crusaders”.

A controversial bill that Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised to review before implementing quietly became law last month, allowing police to enforce language that stipulates a wife’s sexual duties and restricts a woman’s ability to leave her own home.  Afghanistan’s President Karzai approves traditional, male-dominated Islamic law.

Karzai had promised to send the bill to parliament before it was published, but this week women’s rights advocates learned it had already become an enforceable law despite heavy international and national criticism.

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