Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 19:00 UK

Afghan incumbent leading in vote

An Afghan election worker inputs results
The election commission says less than 50% of votes have been counted

Afghanistan's election commission has released further results from the 20 August presidential poll, still showing the incumbent president in the lead.

It said the ballots from 47.8% of polling stations had now been counted.

Hamid Karzai has gained 45.8% of the votes tallied, with his nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, at 33.2%, the independent commission reports.

Final results will not be made official until major fraud allegations are investigated by election officials.

'Mutilated for voting'

A candidate must win 50% of the votes cast to avoid a second round which, if needed, would be held in October.

Chris Morris, BBC correspondent in Kabul
Chris Morris, BBC News, Kabul

With results now declared from nearly half of all polling stations across the country, Hamid Karzai is maintaining his lead over his nearest challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.

He has not yet crept over the 50% mark - which would bring victory without the need for a second round - but he is pretty close. And relatively few votes have been counted so far from southern Afghanistan, where Mr Karzai would expect to do well.

But the south is also where many of the claims of mass fraud have been made, so we are approaching what could be the most controversial period of the election.

Earlier, the independent Electoral Complaints Commission said it would investigate 618 major allegations of vote fraud deemed serious enough to affect the election's outcome, if proven.

More than 2,000 allegations of fraud and intimidation have been made.

In an example of the extreme threats which confronted voters, an Afghan man said on Monday that Taliban militants had cut off his nose and both ears as he tried to vote.

"I was on my way to a polling station when Taliban stopped me and searched me," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed in Kabul.

After finding his voter registration card, the militants mutilated him and beat him unconscious with a weapon, he said.


"I regret that I went to vote," he added. "What is the benefit of voting to me?"

Dr Abdullah has told the BBC that it is impossible for Mr Karzai to win in the first round without massive fraud.

He says there are thousands of witnesses to irregularities.

A source close to Mr Karzai has responded by saying there is a complaints process to be followed and that now is not the time for pointing fingers.

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