Abdullah in lead as vote goes to 2nd round

KABUL (Pajhwok): Former foreign minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah remains on top with more than 45 percent of votes in the final results from the April 5 presidential elections, announced on Thursday.
World Bank economist and ex-finance minister Dr. Ashraf Ghani finished second with 31.6percent of the ballots cast, Independent Election Commission (IEC) Chairman Yousuf Nuristani said.
As expected, none could reach the magic figure of 50+1 -- or an absolute majority -- necessitating a run-off vote, said the official, lauding the authorities concerned for making the democratic exercise possible.
In last month’s preliminary result, Abdullah -- who was lent a major boost by support from Zalmai Rassoul -- came in first with 44.9 percent, followed by Ghani with 31.5 percent.
Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Nuristani said the second round of voting, originally slated for May 28, would take place on June 14. He hoped all parties concerned would accept the outcome.
Based on final results, Abdullah stood first with over 3 million of ballots, followed by Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with, he said. Another candidate, Zalmai Rassoul bagged 11.2 percent, showing a two percentage point decline.
Nuristani linked the delay in result announcement to problems in supplies to polling sites in 58 districts. He promised complete transparency in the second round of polls, saying all possible measures would be taken to prevent rigging.
Votes from 918 polling sites were cancelled. The second round campaign will run from May 22 to June 11, according Nuristani, who said a total of 6604546 votes were cast on April 5, including 64 percent by men and 36 percent by women. 
The preliminary outcome of the second round would be unveiled on July 2. Complaints will be filed on July 3-4 and decided by July 15 before the final results are made public on July 22.
In response to a query, the IEC chairman said around 3,000 election workers and other government officials were allegedly involved in fraud. If found guilty, the individuals will be referred to the Attorney General Office (AGO) for prosecution.
Ballot papers would be sent from Kabul to provinces from May 17 to 22 and from provincial capital to districts from May 25 to June 13.
Article 61 of the constitution says the president is elected by more than 50 percent of the votes cast through free, general, secret and direct voting. The president has a five-year constitutional term.
Under the basic law, elections for the new president are held within 30-60 days before the presidential term expires. President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled the country since 2001, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.
The complaints commission’s failure to submit its final report forced a one-day delay in the announcement. The watchdog said it had been flooded with a high number of complaints, including over 900 serious enough to impinge on the outcome.

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