Abdullah Leads Afghan Election But Is Short Of Majority

04/20/2014 09:13 am ET | Updated Jun 20, 2014
ROBERTO SCHMIDT via Getty Images

KABUL, April 20 (Reuters) - Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah leads the race to become Afghanistan's next president, according to the latest official tally of votes released on Sunday, but is short of an outright majority.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said initial results based on almost 50 percent of the vote from the 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 44.4 percent, followed by Western-leaning academic Ashraf Ghani with 33.2 percent. A win of less than 50 percent would mean the election goes to a second round.

Zalmay Rassoul, backed by two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers, trailed far behind with 10.4 percent.

Afghanistan's allies hailed the April 5 vote a success because of the high turnout, and the failure of Taliban militants to stage any big attacks on polling day. But evidence has subsequently emerged of widespread fraud.

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. (Reporting by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Related on HuffPost:

  • Getty Images
  • Afghan residents gather outside a closed voter registration center to try to receive their voter cards a day after registration ended for the forthcoming presidential election in the northwestern city of Herat on April 2, 2014. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan supporters run to get a good spot near the stage to see Afghan presidential candidate Abudullah Abdullah speak at an election rally on the last day of campaigning by presidential candidates on the outskirts of Kabul, April 2, 2014. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • An Afghan election worker prepares to load plastic boxes containing election material onto a truck at a warehouse for polling stations in Kandahar on April 2, 2014. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan election workers load plastic boxes containing election material onto a truck at a warehouse for polling stations in Kandahar on April 2, 2014. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan women push wheelbarrows filled with jerry cans past electoral posters on a street in Kandahar on April 1, 2014. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • An Afghan cyclist rides past a wall with an election-themed mural and slogan in Kandahar on April 1, 2014. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah speaks with schoolgirls during a campaign rally at a stadium in the northwestern city of Herat on April 1, 2014. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan supporters of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai wave flags bearing his image during an election rally at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul on April 1, 2014. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • A pigeon sits on the tri-colour Afghan flag during the campaign rally of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a stadium in the northwestern city of Herat on April 1, 2014. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • An Afghan man watches the crowd supporting presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah during a campaign rally at a stadium in the northwestern city of Herat on April 1, 2014. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • An Afghan election worker sorts empty ballot boxes for distribution at a warehouse in Mazar-i-Sharif, before election material kits were sent to different polling stations around Balkh province in northern Afghanistan on April 1, 2014. (FARSHAD USYAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan schoolgirls stand onstage in front of their country's coat-of-arms as they prepare to sing the national anthem during a campaign event for Habiba Surabi, the second vice-president candidate running on the ticket of presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul, at a local hall in Kabul on March 31, 2014. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Getty Images
  • Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah (C) waves to supporters as he arrives for a political rally in Dashtak, Afghanistan, on March 31, 2014. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
  • AP
  • An Afghan soldier (left) and a policeman peek through a window as they queue with others to get their registration card, on the last day of voter registration for the upcoming presidential elections, outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • AP
  • An Afghan woman sits on destroyed school benches as she waits to get her registration card on the last day of voter registration for the upcoming presidential elections outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • AP
  • A child pulls a rope which keeps Afghan women in line queuing to get their registration card, on the last day of voter registration for the upcoming presidential elections, outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • AP
  • An Afghan man waits to have his picture taken for his registration card, on the last day of voter registration for the upcoming presidential elections, outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)