IEC, Security Forces and Candidates Ready for Runoff
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News - Election 2014

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Based on Afghan law, if none of the presidential candidates get over 50 percent of votes nationwide, which most experts think is likely to be the case, then there will have to be a runoff round between the two top candidates.

The IEC has said that if the election goes for a runoff, which should be clear once preliminary results are announced Saturday, it would be held two weeks after the announcement of final results. Currently, final results are scheduled to be released no later than May 14.

"If the election goes to a second round, the IEC has no problems from a financial, technical or legal standpoint, all the issues are addressed," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said.

This year was the first national Afghan election entirely managed by Afghans since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime in 2001. The presidential vote also marked the first democratic transition of power in modern Afghan history.

A runoff vote will also require special security preparations; with the weather warming and the traditional "fighting season" starting, the Taliban can be expected to be a real threat, even though security forces performed extremely well for the April 5 vote.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs' spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, has said that if the election does go to a second round, security forces would be ready to ensure the safety of voters.

"Before, when we planned the National Police's security efforts for the elections, we also took into consideration that if the IEC announces suddenly that the election goes into a runoff, we would start our work again and need to be ready," Sediqqi said.

The two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, have been vocal critics of the IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) for their handling of the vote counting, complaint investigation and inspections processes. They, along with independent observers, have taken issue with not being allowed to monitor much of the commissions' work.

However, representatives of both candidates have said they are prepared for a runoff round.

"As far as a runoff goes, we have preparations made and we are ready," Abdullah's campaign spokesman Muslim Saadat said. "The same way we had our observers at the ECC, we will be ready if the election - god forbid - goes for a second round."

"Our demand to the IEC and ECC in the first round was that clean and unclean votes be separated so people know how many clean votes their candidates received," Ashraf Ghani's campaign spokesman Sediq Patman said. "In the second round, our request for the IEC will be that those who were involved in fraud must be relieved of their duties and committed and competent individuals must replace them to prevent fraud."

The IEC has reported that over seven million Afghans took part in the elections on April 5. The Election Day was celebrated by many inside and outside of Afghanistan, including top U.S. officials, as being an encouraging success.

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