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Afghan Presidential Election Will Enter Second Round Run-Off

Preliminary results for Afghanistan's presidential election show that the two leading candidates will be entering a second round run-off.
Posted at 11:36 PM, Apr 26, 2014

Preliminary results for Afghanistan's presidential election show that former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead with 44.9 percent of the ballots cast in his favor. Is it enough for him to win? Not quite. 

Afghanistan's constitution requires a candidate to garner more than 50 percent of the votes before being declared the winner. If no one gets the majority, then a run-off between the two leading candidates will take place. (Via The Wall Street JournalBBC)

Abdullah's closest opponent was former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, who recieved 31.5% of the vote. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, who is seen as current president Hamid Karzi's favorite, came in third with 12%. (Via 1TVKabulYouTube / Dr. Zalmai Rassoul)

There is one alternative to a run-off though — a coalition party between Abdullah and Ghani. While the BBC reports that the leading candidates promised to take the race to a run-off, "intensive discussions are now going on behind the scenes, and a second round might yet be avoided." 

With 82 percent of the vote already counted and the remaining results expected to be counted on Saturday, there remains a concern over election fraud before the final results are announced on May 14.

According to The New York Times, the Electoral Complaints Commission is looking at 746 claims of election fraud, though not every complaint is being taken into consideration. Ballot stuffing and multiple-voting were two reported problems.

Afghanistan's TOLOnews reports Abdullah criticizing the country's Independent Elections Commission saying that "in some areas, complaints were serious and did exist, but ballot boxes were not audited and their ballots were counted; the commission must not fail the process."

But, even with the acknowledged fraud, The Wall Street Journal notes that its so far been less extensive than the 2009 presidential race, when 1.3 million votes had to be thrown out. 

In total, nearly seven million votes were counted. While 64% of the voters were male, 36% were female — something India's Live Mint business news site notes as an impressive turnout for the country.