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More Than Half Of Provinces' Ballots Have Reached Afghan Capital

Afghan workers of the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) count presidential ballots on April 5 at a polling station in Kandahar.
KABUL -- Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission says ballot boxes from 20 of the country's 34 provinces have been transported to Kabul for the final vote count from weekend elections.

Noor Muhammad Noor, a spokesman for the commission, said the transportation of ballot boxes from the remaining regions will be completed by April 15.

Noor told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the ballot boxes are being sent from across the country to the central election office in Kabul amid tight security measures "worked out in advance together with security officials."

Election officials said they are also looking into some 2,000 complaints submitted to the commission over alleged electoral fraud during the April 5 presidential and provincial-council elections.

More than 7 million of Afghanistan's 12 million eligible voters cast their ballots despite threats by Taliban militants, who had vowed to disrupt the polls.

The European Union's election monitoring team on April 7 praised the Afghan people for showing a "remarkable, impressive determination to choose their leadership" and taking part in the vote "in unexpectedly high numbers."

"We don't know who has won; We know the Taliban has lost," Thijs Berman, the head of the EU monitoring team, said.

Election Complaints Commission (ECC) chief Abdul Sattar Saadat said despite the fraud-related complaints, the 2014 election was less fraudulent than the 2009 vote.

"It is too soon to say how serious the complaints are," Saadat said, "but there have been complaints about all eight [presidential] candidates."

He said most of the complaints were about shortage of ballot papers on polling day.

Official preliminary results are not due until April 24. If none of the eight candidates gets more than 50 percent, a runoff will be held in late May.

Media reports say informal preliminary tallies from the capital Kabul and other regions indicate that former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani are increasingly likely to face a runoff.

However, Noor warned it is far too early to predict a winner because ballot counting is likely to last weeks.

The winner will succeed outgoing President Hamid Karzai in the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan.
With reporting by dpa, AFP, and Reuters