Mark Your Calendar

Afghanistan Runoff Scheduled

In the wake of the discovery of fraud that brought President Hamid Karzai’s margin of victory below 50 percent in the Aug. 20 elections, Afghanistan’s election commission has announced that runoff elections will take place Nov. 7, a decision Karzai publicly supports. One third of Karzai’s votes were thrown out on Monday after a UN-supported panel deemed them illegitimate. On Tuesday, runner-up Abdullah Abdullah advocated for an interim government in the case that runoffs prove too dangerous. The only other solution that has been seriously shopped around is a “power-sharing deal,” the stipulations of which have not been articulated. The commission does not want to "leave the people of Afghanistan in uncertainty" any longer, said Independent Election Commission Chairman Azizullah Lodin of the run-off announcement. Concerns over the second round of voting include repeated fraud, violence, bad winter weather, and overall ethnic divisions and conflict in Afghanistan. The ultimate goal of the Aug elections and now the Nov. 7 runoffs is to establish a legitimate Afghan government to join the US in fighting the Taliban. The timing of the runoff may present a challenge for the Obama administration if it wants to wait until after the election before announcing a decision on troop levels.