KABUL - Afghanistan was set on Sunday to release further results from its presidential election after early counting put former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah ahead of his main rival Ashraf Ghani.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said that the second batch of results would be declared at about 1230 GMT in the race to succeed President Hamid Karzai as US troops withdraw from the country.
It was unclear how many ballots would be declared, but election officials have repeatedly warned that the partial results may not reflect the final count due out on May 14. Last week, the first 10 percent of the vote was announced with Abdullah collecting 41.9 percent and Ashraf Ghani on 37.6 percent after eight candidates stood in the April 5 election.
A run-off vote between the two leading names will be triggered if no single candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote. Both Abdullah and Ghani have expressed confidence that they will win the election in the first round, and have also vowed to fight on if a run-off is necessary.
Abdullah, who came second to Karzai in the fraud-riddled 2009 election, has signalled that he may be open to constitution changes that could allow for a power-sharing deal before the run-off.
Ghani, a former World Bank economist, has also raised the issue, but it is uncertain how any new system could placate the two rivals or how long it would take to implement.
Afghanistan faces immediate challenges as US-led NATO troops pull out this year after fighting Taliban insurgents since 2001, and as the country tries to strengthen its aid-dependent economy.
More than seven million people defied bad weather and Taliban threats of violence to vote in the first round of the election, though hundreds of serious fraud allegations have been registered.