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Afghan presidential election likely to go into run-off
Saturday April 26, 2014 7:31 PM, IANS

The Afghan presidential election is likely to go into a run-off as none of the hopefuls could obtain more than 50 percent of the votes, a media report said Saturday.

Abdullah Abdullah is leading the other candidates as 82.5 percent of votes have been counted, Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) Mohammad Yusuf Nuristani told a press conference here Thursday.

"Altogether 5,857,442 votes have been counted so far and Abdullah is ahead with 43.8 percent of the votes, while Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai ranked second with 32.9 percent and Zalmai Rassoul secured the third position with 11.1 percent," Xinhua quoted Nuristani as saying.

More than seven million out of some 12 million eligible voters had voted in the April 5 presidential election amid a Taliban threat of violence and tight security.

Eight politicians had joined the presidential race to succeed outgoing president Hamid Karzai, who has ruled Afghanistan since the Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001.

To secure victory, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of valid ballots. Otherwise, the top two candidates will go into a run-off.

"Still some 17.5 percent of the votes have remained uncounted and after the counting is finished we will announce the preliminary result Saturday," Nuristani added.

The final official result of the election will be announced May 14 after examination of all complaints registered with the election complaints commission.

"Since none of the presidential runners has secured over 50 percent of the votes, the run-off is a natural fact between the two frontrunners," political analyst Mia Gul Wasiq stated.

However, spokesman for the election commission, Noor Mohammad Noor, cautioned not to jump to a conclusion.

"It is too early to say that the election will be going into the second round," Noor said.

According to official reports, both Abdullah and his top rival Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai are ready for a run-off.

"Although it is difficult to predict a second round, the positions and the percentages of votes secured by the presidential hopefuls so far has made the run-off possible," political analyst and former presidential contender Bashir Bezhan said.

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