Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s former foreign minister, has been leading over rival Ashraf Ghani in Afghan presidential election results but remains below the fifty percent threshold needed for victory.
Thursday’s results showed Abdullah with 43.8 percent of the vote and Ghani with 32.9 percent, election officials said.
Only 80 percent of the votes have been counted so far.
To win, a candidate must secure more than 50 percent of votes. Failing that, the top two candidates will go into a run-off.
As the estimated seven million votes are tallied a discernible winner seems unlikely.
“With the percentage of votes (still to be counted), I suspect there will not be a winner in the first round, but I cannot say decisively,” Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, head of the Independent Election Commission, said.
Both Abdullah and Ghani, a former World Bank economist, have vowed to push on.
Despite a seemingly hopeful electoral process, the election has been tainted with allegations of widespread fraud.
Hundreds of complaints are being investigated after the poll to determine a successor for US-backed Hamid Karzai, who governed the country after the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.
This is not the only time fraud has plagued Afghan polls. The 2009 election that brought Karzai to power was marred by fraud allegations, shaking confidence in the effort to develop Afghanistan while also undermining relations with the United States.
The election winner will not only have to push Afghanistan’s post-conflict development, but also oversee a long fight against a resilient Taliban insurgency as 51,000 US-led combat troops leave the country this year.