In this photograph taken on April 5, 2014, Afghan Presidential Candidate Abdullah Abdullah shows his inked finger as he casts his vote at a local polling station in Kabul. -AFP
KABUL: Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah is leading his closest rival Ashraf Ghani in the Afghan presidential election, the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) said Sunday.
"Today we announce the partial results of 26 provinces with 10 percent of votes counted, these include (provinces) in the north, south, east, west and Kabul," said Yousuf Nuristani, the IEC chief.
"With 500,000 votes from 26 provinces Dr Abdullah is leading with 41.9 percent; Dr Ashraf Ghani has 37.6 percent and is in second; and Zalmai Rassoul has 9.8 percent in third position."
A run-off election between the two leading candidates will be triggered if no single candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote when the final results are announced in late May.
Of the eight provinces for which results have not been announced, two are in the north (Badakhshan and Baghlan), two in the east (Nuristan and Paktika), central Daykundi, southern Ghazni and Wardak and western Ghor.
Abdullah, who was born to an ethnic Pashtun father and a Tajik mother, is more associated with the northern Tajiks.
More than seven million people defied bad weather and Taliban threats of violence to vote in the April 5 first round of the election, earning praise from world leaders.
Ahead of the vote there were fears that a repeat of the massive fraud which blighted Karzai's re-election in 2009 would undermine the winner's legitimacy at a testing time for the war-torn country. -AFP