U.S. officials expect Afghan President Hamid Karzai to concede on Tuesday that he fell short of the 50 percent vote share in August's election that he needed to win outright, but it was unclear Monday whether that would lead quickly to a runoff election with his nearest challenger, a U.S. government official said.
Karzai could opt to embrace a runoff, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday was logistically feasible within weeks, or he could attempt to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who finished second in the August balloting, The Associated Press reports.
For the Obama administration, the decision prolongs an already lengthy election process that has left them with a variety of options, none of them ideal.
There is a growing debate within the administration and among Western allies about whether to urge Mr. Karzai and Mr. Abdullah to try to form a power-sharing or unity government in lieu of a runoff, administration officials said.
But that prospect, too, is fraught with tension, since the two men have been fierce rivals during the presidential campaign and its long aftermath.
A second senior administration official said some American diplomats and allies were pressing for a negotiated settlement, but were trying not to be too involved for fear of looking as though they were interfering.
"If you jam it, it has no legitimacy and you’re further behind,” the official said. So instead, the administration is "creating conditions" so that the Afghans come to see a negotiated deal as in their own interests. "If they want an election, an election it will be,” the official said, New York Times informs.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton says she is encouraged at the direction of events. "I am very hopeful that we will see a resolution in line with the constitutional order in the next several days."
The UN-backed watchdog, the ECC has invalidated thousands of votes for the president from August’s poll, reducing Karzai’s share to 48 per cent – below the 50 % threshold required for an outright win.
As yet Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission is still to accept the findings, Euronews informs.