12:51pm

Sun April 13, 2014
The Two-Way

Early Afghan Election Results Set Candidates Posturing

Originally published on Sun April 13, 2014 1:49 pm

Initial results from Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election show two candidates — Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani — far ahead of their rivals. Election officials released the figures Sunday, based on less than 7 percent of the total vote.

Though the sample released Sunday represented a small fraction of the estimated 7 million votes cast, that hasn't stopped the leading candidates from posturing about the final outcome, as NPR's Sean Carberry reports from Kabul:

"The initial results show opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah holding a narrow lead over former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. All of the other candidates are lagging far behind.

"Election officials caution that the results will shift as more of the votes are tabulated, but a confident Abdullah says he will be the winner.

"Ghani claims that's like declaring victory 10 minutes into a 100-minute game. He says that election officials must continue counting and evaluating the hundreds of serious allegations of fraud.

"The certified results aren't expected until mid-May. Analysts say it's unlikely either candidate will get more than 50 percent, resulting in a runoff between the two."

As of today, Abdullah holds the lead with 41.9 percent and Ghani has 37.6 percent, according to Afghan news agency Khaama Press.

A runoff would also bring a chance for the main candidates to form allegiances with other political groups, including their rivals.

Saying that he hopes to create an "inclusive government," Abdullah told Reuters, "we are in contact not with just one candidate, but also other candidates and politicians in the country."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.