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Abdullah leads in Afghan election but short of majority

  • In this photograph taken on April 2, 2014 Afghan presidential candidate Abudullah Abdullah smiles during a political rally on the last day of campaigning by presidential candidates in the outskirts of Kabul. Afghanistan was set on April 20, 2014 to release further results from its presidential election after early counting put former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah ahead of his main rival Ashraf Ghani. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT/FILES

KABUL: Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah leads the race to become Afghanistan's next president, according to the latest official tally of votes released on Sunday, but is short of an outright majority.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said initial results based on almost 50 percent of the vote from the 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 44.4 percent, followed by Western-leaning academic Ashraf Ghani with 33.2 percent. A win of less than 50 percent would mean the election goes to a second round.

Zalmay Rassoul, backed by two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers, trailed far behind with 10.4 percent.

Afghanistan's allies hailed the April 5 vote a success because of the high turnout, and the failure of Taliban militants to stage any big attacks on polling day. But evidence has subsequently emerged of widespread fraud.

To win, a candidate must secure more than 50 percent of valid ballots. Failing that, the top two candidates go into a run-off. Final results are due on May 14, and a run-off, if needed will take place in late May.

 
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