KABUL (PAN): A day after the landmark presidential polls, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced on Friday the completion of the vote count in all provinces.

Results would start trickling in from nearly 7000 polling centres across the country today, a senior official said, adding the IEC would announce the preliminary outcome after careful tallying on August 25.

IEC Secretary Daud Najafi told a news conference in Kabul official results would be unveiled on September 17 or before. "We are trying to announce the final result as soon as possible because the Afghan nation and candidates want to hear it."

The official said the counting of provincial council votes was over in 30 provinces, but ballot calculation was still in progress in Kabul, Herat, Baghlan and Nangarhar due to the multiplicity of election contenders.

In response to a query about the turnout, Najafi said putting a specific figure on the number of those who cast votes was not possible at this point in time. "We can't assess it right now." The turnout varied from region to region, he added.

Asked if they were ready if the presidential poll went to the run-off stage, the secretary replied a second round of voting was included in IEC plans. The run-off cost was incorporated in the $223 million election budget, he explained.

Even the spadework, like ballot paper design and contacts with several companies, had also been done, the IEC official concluded.

According to the initial results from some provinces, President Hamid Karzai and his former foreign minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah are going neck and neck. Karzai has emerged on top in the south and east while Abdullah is leading in the north.


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