Afghanistan election set for run-off in June
The Afghan election headed for a run-off in mid-June between Abdullah Abdullah, a former opposition leader, and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani after final results today showed no candidate had won an absolute majority.
The run-off will be held on June 14 and the results will be announced on July 22.
Abdullah, a former leader in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, scored 45 percent of the vote in the first round held on April 5, followed by Ghani with 31.6 percent, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said.
"As the none of the candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote, the election goes to the second round," IEC chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani told a news conference.
The winner will take charge at a crucial time with most foreign troops due to withdraw by the end of the year, the Taliban insurgency still raging and an agreement with Washington permitting some US forces to stay hanging in the balance.
Abdullah and Ghani both say they will sign the agreement with Washington allowing American troops to stay beyond 2014 for counter-insurgency and training purposes. President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign a pact, which otherwise would have been seen as part of his legacy.
Both contenders have also said they are open to a peace deal with the Taliban, who have refused to deal directly with Karzai's government, calling him a puppet of the West despite his frequent outbursts over US strategy in Afghanistan.