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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:05:15 +0000
(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The countdown is on in Afghanistan.
Election workers began the arduous task Thursday of auditing eight million ballots cast in June's presidential election runoff that will ultimately determine who will lead Afghanistan for the next five years: former foreigner minister Abdullah Abdullah or one-time finance minister Ashraf Ghani.
Abdullah's claims of massive fraud spurred the intervention of Secretary of State John Kerry, who got both candidates to agree that a complete audit of votes would resolve the political crisis.
The process of counting the ballots overseen by U.S. and foreign observers is expected to last anywhere from three to six weeks.
Outgoing President Hamid Karzai initially wanted his successor in place by Aug. 2, but now concedes that early September is a likelier target date.
Aside from the fact that ballots have to be collected from 22,000 polling stations, another factor that could slow the audit is that it's occurring during the holy month of Ramadan.
Since workers can't go past 5 p.m., two shifts of counters will be used to tally up the votes.
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