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After Voting, Afghans Must Now Wait For A Winner

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Millions of Afghans voted on Saturday, but it's still going to be weeks, and quite possibly months, before they learn who the new president will be.

"We don't know who has won," says Thijs Berman, head of the EU Election Assessment Team. "We know that the Taliban has lost."

Election officials counted votes at local polling places immediately after they closed. Then they posted a public copy of the results on the outside of each polling center, and sent the original tally sheet and ballots to the provincial capitals.

Trucks have begun arriving at the Independent Election Commission compound in the capital, Kabul, depositing giant Tupperware-style containers full of ballots.

Noor Mohammad Noor, the electoral commission spokesman, says it will take another eight days for all the materials to arrive in Kabul. This still gives the Taliban an opportunity to disrupt the outcome.

On Sunday, an election truck struck a roadside bomb. Two people in the truck, along with three policemen in the convoy, were killed, and 3,500 ballots were destroyed, including the original result sheets.

The Electoral Complaints Commission will spend a month adjudicating more than 150 allegations of fraud or wrongdoing by the presidential candidates. In addition, they will review challenges to the preliminary count, says Noor.

Preliminary results are expected on April 24, Noor says, with final, certified results set for May 14.

However, none of the eight candidates is expected to get 50 percent of the vote, which would necessitate a runoff, probably in June, between the top two candidates.

Then the laborious counting will start all over again.

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