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Afghanistan Delays Election Results

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Afghanistan's election commission has delayed releasing preliminary results from the country's April 5 presidential election to allow more time to investigate possible fraud.

A vote count was expected on Thursday, but the Independent Election Commission said results will now be released on Saturday.

Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said, "every legitimate vote will be counted and every bogus vote will be eliminated from the final count so that the real will of the Afghan voters could be reflected in the final results of the elections."

Election officials say the extra time is necessary to ensure that possible irregularities are thoroughly investigated. Some seven million ballots were cast on election day.

Partial results put former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah in the lead with 44 percent followed by former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani with 33 percent.

It is unclear whether Abdullah and Ghani will receive more than 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a second round election.

Abdullah was the runner-up in the 2009 election won by President Hamid Karzai, amid allegations of irregularities and ballot fraud.

The winner of the April 5 election will replace Mr. Karzai who could not run again because of constitutional limits. The next president will oversee a transition during which a majority of international troops will be withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Final election results are due to be released on May 14.

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