KABUL: The latest official vote count released on Sunday showed former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah’s lead in the Afghan presidential election has widened.
Although half of the votes have yet to be counted, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission said initial results based on almost 50 percent of the vote out of the total 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 44.4 percent, followed by ex-world bank official Ashraf Ghani with 33.2 percent of the votes it said were not fraudulent.
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.
A run-off is seen as a risky proposition in Afghanistan, given security concerns, the prospect of a low turnout and the cost – the bill for the first round was put at more than $100 million.
But Abdullah dismissed the idea of deal-making to avoid another round of voting.
Former President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally bound to step down as president after more than 12 years in power, at a time when Afghanistan readies to stand on its own feet as most Western troops prepare to leave the country by the end of the year.
While Sunday’s count delivered good news for Abdullah, Ghani will be disappointed. A week earlier Abdullah had 41.9 percent of the vote and Ghani had 37.6 percent- Reuters