Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah’s lead in the Afghan presidential race has widened, the latest official tally of votes released on Sunday showed, 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. “The lead we were expecting, it didn’t come as a surprise, but perhaps we were expecting a bigger lead,” Abdullah told Reuters in an interview at his home in Kabul. “We are still hoping the elections will be completed in the first round.”
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.
Full Article: Abdullah widens lead in Afghan presidential vote | Reuters.