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Afghans say they'd like to have a winner — now

Can we please get this over with?
/ Source: The Associated Press

Can we please get this over with?

In the wake of partial results showing a close race between the top two candidates for president, Afghans interviewed in Kabul said Tuesday that above all that they want the race finished in one round instead of leading to a runoff.

Some said they worried about another voting day marred by Taliban attacks. Others fear they'll lose business if there's another round of polls. Election day is typically declared a holiday by the government.

Shirin Agha, a tall, serious, 40-year-old who sells melons along the side of a street, said he couldn't set up his stand for seven days during the election period because security forces out in force along the road wouldn't let him.

"We're tired," Agha said. "I'm fed up with all these politicians."

President Hamid Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah both have roughly 40 percent of the nationwide vote for president with 10 percent of polling stations counted, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said Tuesday.

A candidate needs to get above 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Final results won't be known for weeks, and a runoff, if there is one, would likely happen in October.

Already various candidates have hurled accusations of fraud against one another.

The bickering threatens to delay formation of a new administration and undermine U.S. goals of bridging the ethnic, political and social divides in this country to present a united front against the resurgent Taliban.

Several Afghans around the capital said they didn't care who won the presidency — so long as they dealt well with the country's numerous problems.

"I want the first round to be the last because people are suffering," said Haji Pacha, 54, a Karzai supporter.

There's some worry that supporters of the losing candidate may react with violence. In particular, there's concern that Abdullah backers may take to the streets. But several Afghans interviewed said they didn't believe that would happen.

Amir Mohammad Jalali, a 43-year-old pediatrician whose preferred candidate didn't make the top two, said it was foreigners, including the media, who wanted to stoke divisions among Afghans.

"As long as an Afghan wins, we should be OK," he said.


Associated Press Writer Amir Shah contributed to this report.