Afghan presidential election poised for Abdullah-Ghani run-off

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:57 GMT

(Adds comment, detail)

KABUL, April 24 (Reuters) - The Afghanistan presidential election is poised to go to a run-off after the latest tally of votes released on Thursday showed neither former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah nor former finance minister Ashraf Ghani securing an outright majority.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said preliminary results based on nearly 82.6 percent of the vote from the 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 43.8 percent, followed by Ghani with 32.9 percent.

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.

"With the 17.5 percent of the votes that are going to be counted, it is doubtful that anyone will win in the first round," IEC chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani told a news conference in Kabul.

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. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Robert Birsel)