KABUL, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah is in lead as 49.75 percent of votes had been counted, chairman of the election commission Mohammad Yusuf Nuristani announced at a press conference here on Sunday.
Nuristani said Abdullah, the former foreign minister, is leading with 44.4 percent of the votes, followed by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with 33.2 percent. Zalmai Rassoul is in the third place with 10.4 percent. The initial results were based on 49.75 percent of the vote from 34 provinces. A candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the vote to win an outright victory. A run-off is widely expected to take place between the top two candidates.
Nuristani also said the results announced Sunday were partial results, noting the election commission would do its best to announce the preliminary results of the elections next Thursday. He also said that the results could be changed.
On April 5, more than 7 million Afghans, out of 12 million eligible voters, cast their votes to elect the country's new president.
Final results of the presidential elections are scheduled to be announced on May 14.