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Elections

Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to meet in Afghan election runoff

Afghanistan's presidential election will see a second round, preliminary results show. The opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah and former academic Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai have both failed to secure a decisive victory.

As predicted, preliminary results show that former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah (pictured), who held a comfortable lead throughout the count, won the most votes in the April 5 election but failed to reach the majority needed. On Saturday, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, said that Abdullah had 44.9 percent of the vote and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former World Bank economist and Afghan finance minister, came in second with 31.5 percent. With just 11.5 percent, Zalmay Rassoul came in a distant third.

"Based on our results, it appears that the election goes to the second round," Nuristani told a press conference Saturday.

Electoral law in Afghanistan requires a run-off within 15 days between the top two candidates if no one gets a majority. Should the election results be finalized on May 14 as planned following investigations into fraud allegations, a vote would be held by the end of the month to finalize Hamid Karzai's successor. Karzai is the only president Afghans have known since the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban regime in 2001, but is not eligible to run for a third term.

mkg/mz (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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