KABUL // Partial results released on Sunday in Afghanistan’s presidential election show a tight race between the former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, with 41.9 per cent of the vote, and the former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, with 37.6 per cent.
While the numbers were based on less than 10 per cent of the 7 million ballots cast in the April 5 election, the early results appeared to narrow the wide field to two main contenders, who could face off in a second round of voting if neither gains a majority.
In third place with 9.8 per cent of the vote was Zalmai Rassoul, another former foreign minister who was considered a favourite of the outgoing president, Hamid Karzai.
The chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, warned that the results could change in future with so few votes counted.
“Maybe today one candidate looks strong. Tomorrow, maybe another will pull ahead.”
The results are for 10 per cent of the vote in 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. They represent a little over 500,000 ballots, Mr Nouristani said.
Mr Abdullah, who came in second in the disputed 2009 election, had 212,312 votes. Mr Ghani had 190,561 and Mr Rassoul trailed with 49,821 votes. Numbers for the other five candidates were not announced.
The election was held amid threats of violence by Taliban insurgents, who launched dozens of attacks in the run-up to the polls.
The man who replaces Mr Karzai, the only president Afghans have known for a decade, faces a huge task in fighting the insurgents and overseeing the withdrawal of the last foreign combat troops 12 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Talbian.
Full preliminary results of the election are due April 24, with final results to be declared in May once complaints of fraud are fully investigated.
Nearly 1,900 complaints of fraud have been filed, but the number is lower than that of the last election.
Each allegation will be scrutinised so that there would be no question of the outcome of the April 5 vote, said Mohammed Nadir Mohseni, the spokesman of the complaints committee of the Independent Elections Commission.
Mr Mohseni said 1,892 complaints were filed from among the 6,218 polling centres that opened on election day. Of the complaints under investigation, 870 are serious enough to potentially affect results.
* Associated Press