With 10 percent of votes counted in the April 5 election, Abdullah leads with 42 percent, compared with 38 percent for Ghani, according to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan in Kabul. A runoff will take place between the two top candidates if no single candidate obtains more than 50 percent of the vote. “The results will change,” Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, the election commission chairman, told reporters in Kabul yesterday. “It is possible that one candidate is the front-runner in today’s press conference, and there will be another front-runner in the next press conference.” The Afghan government said voter turnout doubled from the previous presidential election in a show of defiance against Taliban insurgents who have sought to disrupt the poll. The vote paves the way for the first democratic transfer of power since the U.S. ousted the group in 2001.
Karzai has delayed signing a pact that’s needed to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond this year and secure billions of dollars in pledged aid funds. All of the eight candidates vying to succeed him, including Abdullah and Ghani, have promised to sign it immediately after taking office.
“We welcome the results, which are showing a first step of the final results,” Ghani told reporters in Kabul. “The results are like a football game and will change until it’s 90 minutes.”