The final results from the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential election are due to be announced in Kabul on May 14, although officials are warning of a possible delay.
A runoff election is likely because no candidate is expected to have more than 50 percent of the vote needed to win the presidency outright in the first round.
Partial results released by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission have shown former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah as the front-runner with 44.9 percent.
Abdullah was an adviser and friend of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader and anti-Taliban commander who was assassinated by Al Qaida on September 9, 2001.
Abdullah also was Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s strongest competitor in the last Afghan presidential election.
However, the Afghan Election Commission told RFE/RL on May 13 that it still has not received a final assessment of complaints about the April 5 vote, which may delay the announcement of final results.
The partial results from the April 5 ballot have shown that Abdullah’s closest competitor, with 31.5 percent, is Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official.
But the balance of a second-round vote appears to have tilted significantly in favor of Abdullah after he secured a key endorsement from the candidate expected to finish in third with 11.5 percent of the first round vote-- former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasul.
Rasul's endorsement on May 11 gives a clear boost to Abdullah's chances.
Some political analysts have suggested that Rasul's endorsement of Abdullah could put pressure on Ghani to drop out of the race.
That's because ending the election after the first round would spare the country the formidable costs and potential violence that would accompany a second-round ballot.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP