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Run-Off Vote Expected to Decide Afghan Presidency

Preliminary results show Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election will have to go to a second-round run-off vote between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani.

Afghan election officials said Saturday that neither of the top two candidates won a majority of the overall vote. The official count shows Abdullah won 44.9 percent of the vote and Ghani 31.5 percent.

A run-off election is required unless a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the ballots.

The preliminary results are expected to be finalized on May 14. A run-off should be held within 15 days of the final results.

Abdullah finished second in Afghanistan's last presidential election in 2009. President Hamid Karzai was declared the winner amid allegations of irregularities and ballot fraud. Officials have been investigating complaints of possible fraud and other irregularities in the current election.

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.