KABUL, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The European Union election observer team, which monitored the Afghan presidential elections, welcomed Monday the release of the preliminary results of the polls.
"Thijs Berman, EU Election Assessment Team (EU EAT) Chief Observer, welcomes the release (Saturday) by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of the preliminary results of April 5 Presidential Election," the team said in a statement.
"The cooperation between the electoral administration and the EU Election Assessment Team (EU EAT) has been excellent," said Berman.
On Saturday, the IEC announced the preliminary results, with Dr. Abdullah in the lead with 44.9 percent of the votes, followed by Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai who obtained 31.5 percent and Dr. Zalmai Rassoul who won 11.5 percent.
Eight people were contesting to secure the top slot and replace the incumbent President Hamid Karzai.
"EU experts have been able to monitor the tallying of the votes in an open and professional way," Berman noted, adding that "We invite the Independent Election Commission to increase transparency and publish online all preliminary results per polling station,"
Following the preliminary announcement, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said that the election is likely to go to a runoff polls.
To secure an outright victory, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of valid ballots. Otherwise, the top two candidates will go into a runoff. According to the election timetable, if the runoff is needed, it will take place on May 28.
"The EU EAT will remain until the very end of this electoral process including a second round, and will continue assessing the compliance of these elections with the Afghan legislation and with international standards," said Berman.
The EU EAT has 16 international experts from 13 European countries who arrived in Kabul since March 15.